Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Planned Parenthood have both filed separate suits to overturn Michigan’s 1931 ban on abortion. The lawsuits are a pre-emptive move, should the Supreme Court decide to overturn Roe v. Wade in its upcoming ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, because as the law stands now, abortion in the state would be effectively outlawed.
According to The Detroit News, both Whitmer and Planned Parenthood filed their lawsuits on April 7. In an effort to circumvent the normal process through the lower courts, Whitmer used her suit to invoke executive authority, and asked the Michigan Supreme Court to provide immediate intervention and resolve whether the state constitution covers the right to abortion. Democrats currently have a 4-3 majority on the state’s Supreme Court bench.
In a statement discussing the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade, Whitmer said, “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.”
The Detroit Free Press reports that there are currently 13 counties in the state with abortion facilities. Prosecutors in seven of those counties signed a statement in support of Whitmer’s lawsuit, and said they would not enforce the abortion ban should it become enacted.
In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood likewise asked the courts to reaffirm that there is a right to abortion in the state’s constitution. They are asking for an immediate court order restraining the state’s Attorney General Dana Nessel from enforcing an abortion ban. For her part, Nessel has already said she will refuse to enforce the ban should Roe v. Wade be overturned, however that doesn’t preclude county prosecutors from following the law.
“It is terrifying to think that Michiganders could wake up one day without the right to make their own medical decisions, and dedicated health care professionals could be imprisoned for providing essential health care. We don’t have the luxury of complacency,” said Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson. “Michigan’s antiquated and unconstitutional pre-Roe abortion ban is far too dangerous to leave on the books.”
These lawsuits are evidence of the desperation being felt by abortion advocates across the country, and they also point to an important reality — even should the pro-life movement see a win with the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the fight for life and the changing of hearts and minds will still be as important as ever within our states and local communities.
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