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Tipsheet

Democratic Gov. Whitmer Sues to Protect the 'Right to Abortion' Under the State Constitution

AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File

Michigan’s pro-abortion Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that she is asking the state’s Supreme Court to decide on the constitutionality of abortion. She filed a lawsuit challenging Michigan’s 1931 law banning abortion in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns landmark case Roe v. Wade

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“If Roe is overturned, abortion could become illegal in Michigan in nearly any circumstance – including in cases of rape and incest – and deprive Michigan women of the ability to make critical health care decisions for themselves,” Whitmer said in a statement to reporters, according to The Hill

“This is no longer theoretical: it is reality. That’s why I am filing a lawsuit and using my executive authority to urge the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s state constitution protects the right to abortion,” she added.

On Dec. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case surrounds a 15 week abortion ban in Mississippi. Mississippi’s Attorney General Lynn Fitch asked the court directly to overturn Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in her amicus brief. A Dobbs decision is expected next summer. 

In the meantime, other states, such as FloridaIdahoTexasSouth Dakota, and Arizona have created legislation restricting abortion and saving unborn lives.

Whitmer, on the other hand, said she is going to “fight like hell” to maintain “reproductive freedom” in her state, as Politico noted. If Roe is overturned, the 1931 law could become enforceable.

“Whitmer, one of the most vulnerable Democratic governors up for reelection this fall, is using an extraordinary power afforded to Michigan governors to ask the state Supreme Court to take up the abortion case directly, without winding its way through lower courts. By challenging the nearly century-old law, Whitmer hopes to establish a proactive right to an abortion under the state constitution, regardless of developments at the national level.

‘No matter what happens to Roe, I am going to fight like hell and use all the tools I have as governor to ensure reproductive freedom is a right for all women in Michigan,’ Whitmer said in a statement. ‘If the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to protect the constitutional right to an abortion, the Michigan Supreme Court should step in.’”

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In January, I reported how a coalition of pro-abortion advocates were working toward compiling enough signatures to change the state’s constitution to guarantee the right to abortion. 

The Detroit Free Press reported that pro-abortion advocates would need to collect over 400,000 signatures and have them verified by the state before their constitutional amendment petition goes on the November ballot. The deadline is July 11, 120 days before the election.

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