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Whitmer asks Legislature to repeal abortion ban statute

Woman getting ultrasound
Alexander Raths
Adobe Stock

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has called on the GOP-controlled Legislature to repeal the state’s decades-old ban on almost all abortions, even though the ban is not enforceable under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Whitmer issued a statement after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block Texas’s law banning most abortions. She said that puts in play Michigan’s 90-year-old statutory ban on abortions except those necessary to save a woman’s life.“In Michigan today, abortion is safe and legal,” she said. “But we have an arcane law on the books from the 1930s banning abortion and criminalizing healthcare providers who offer comprehensive care and essential reproductive services. Thankfully, that dangerous, outdated law is superseded by Roe v. Wade, but if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe, that Michigan law and others like it may go back into effect in dozens of states, disproportionately impacting Black and brown communities.”

Democratic state Senator Erika Geiss has sponsored a bill to repeal the dormant law. It’s a matter that, she says, has now become more urgent “because if Roe v. Wade gets overturned, it would trigger the law back into being enforceable.”

The state House and Senate Republican leaders did not respond to a request for comment.

But Genevieve Marnon, the legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, says the governor’s request is futile since the GOP-led Legislature won’t go along.

“It’s not going to happen,” she said. “We all know that. She knows that. That’s why it’s OK for her to make such a bold statement.”

But abortion rights could become an issue in statewide elections next year if the Supreme Court reverses Roe – or appears poised to do so. Whitmer has not announced her re-election intentions.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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