State Watch

Whitmer asks state Supreme Court to decide whether abortion is constitutional

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) announced on Thursday that she is requesting that the state’s Supreme Court make a decision on the constitutionality of abortion.

According to Whitmer’s office, she is using a power she has as governor known as an “executive message” to request that Michigan’s Supreme Court take the question of whether the procedure is constitutional out of the state’s trial courts and make its own decision. 

“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, who is up for reelection this year, said in a statement to reporters on Thursday.

“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.”

Whitmer’s office notes that the move marks a departure from various GOP-led states moving to restrict access to the procedure at a rapid pace. 

Texas, Arizona, Kentucky and Idaho have moved to restrict abortion access in their states. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Legislature gave the green light to a bill that would make performing an abortion a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The only exception to the proposed legislation is if the life of the mother is in danger. 

Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to rule on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which centers on the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

If the high court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, rules in favor of Mississippi, it could result in states chipping away at abortion rights. 

In Michigan, a 1931 law criminalizing abortion, except when the life of the mother is at risk, is still on the books. However, the 1973 landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade blocks the 1931 law and legalizes abortion in the state. 

Whitmer and her allies warn that if Roe v. Wade is rolled back or overturned, the 1931 law criminalizing abortion will go back into effect. 

“If the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to protect the constitutional right to an abortion, the Michigan Supreme Court should step in,” Whitmer said. “We must trust women—our family, neighbors, and friends—to make decisions that are best for them about their bodies and lives.”

Tags Abortion abortion rights Gretchen Whitmer Gretchen Whitmer Michigan Supreme Court

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