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Gov. Whitmer issues executive order blocking extradition for abortion-related crimes

gretchen whitmer sitting at table

Michigan’s governor will decline to extradite some people for charges related to receiving or helping someone get an abortion.

That’s laid out in an executive order Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Wednesday.

“I cannot in good conscience participate in other states’ efforts to make it a crime to exercise a fundamental right or to punish health-care providers. A woman’s health, not politics, should guide life-changing medical decisions,” Whitmer wrote in the order.

Article 4 Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution does require extradition for someone who was charged with a crime and then fled to a different state:

“A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.”

But University of Michigan law professor Richard Primus said Whitmer’s order appears to carve out an exception to avoid running afoul of the federal requirement.

“This order is written so that it doesn’t apply to people who are charged in other states and then fled to Michigan," he said. "It would apply to people who leave other states without being charged with anything there because they’ve committed no crime yet under those state laws and are in Michigan.”

He said he expects lawmakers to continue to find new ways to adapt to a post-Roe landscape.

“It’s like a battlefield with mines and snipers around every corner. There’s no one thing that is the thing that’s going to happen. Things are going to happen on every side of it,” Primus said.

It’s uncertain whether the order will face a legal challenge.

Genevieve Marnon, the legislative director for the abortion-rights opposition group Right to Life Michigan, said someone should sue.

“The fact that [Gov. Whitmer’s] telling law enforcement agents in this state to not cooperate with criminal proceedings from another state — it should give everybody pause. Because what if it were about a different kind of crime? One that she liked but other people didn’t?” Marnon said Wednesday.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel couldn’t be reached Wednesday for a comment on what the policy change meant for Michigan prosecutors and law enforcement. But her office did reiterate her previous comments that she would not use her office resources to aid in the prosecution of women seeking an abortion or medical professionals providing one.

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