Gov. Whitmer Asks Michigan Supreme Court for Immediate Consideration of Abortion Lawsuit

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is asking the Michigan Supreme Court for immediate consideration of her lawsuit to decide if Michigan’s state constitution protects the right to abortion.

The motion comes on the heels of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, ending nearly 50 years of precedent.

Whitmer has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution. Her lawsuit asks the court to stop enforcement of the 1931 Michigan abortion ban.

Right now, abortion remains safe and legal in Michigan because of a court order temporarily blocking enforcement of the state’s 1931 abortion ban,” said Governor Whitmer in a statement. “But in the wake of the decision in Dobbs overturning Roe, certain county prosecutors and health providers have expressed confusion about the current legal status of abortion in Michigan. This only underscores the need for the Michigan Supreme Court to act now, which is why I sent a notice to the court urging them to immediately take up my lawsuit and decide if access to abortion is protected under the Michigan Constitution. Getting this done will put an end to any confusion and ensure that Michiganders, health providers, and prosecutors understand the law.” 

On May 17, a Michigan state judge granted a preliminary injunction in a Planned Parenthood suit against Michigan’s 1931 law criminalizing abortion. The injunction temporarily blocks the abortion ban.

Attorney General Dana Nessel says Michigan health care providers cannot be prosecuted for providing abortion care due to the injunction.

“As it currently stands, providing abortion care in Michigan cannot be prosecuted, and I encourage those with appointments to move forward as scheduled and consult with their doctors,” Nessel said. “Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling last week, I remain committed to ensuring a woman’s right to choose and will continue to fight against every attempt to limit access to care. This includes ensuring Michiganders are properly informed regarding the current state court battle that is far from over.”

Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization:

“I was contacted by a few news agencies on Friday after the announcement of the Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court which overturned Roe v Wade. I wanted to have time to review the decision and let it sink in before responding.

“The oath that I took as prosecuting attorney was to support the Constitution of the United States and the Michigan Constitutions. As I understand these constitutions, it is for the legislature to pass laws, for the judiciary to interpret laws, and it is for the prosecuting attorneys to enforce those laws that are adjudged to be constitutional.

“It is not my place to substitute my judgment for that of the legislature, or of the judiciary.

“I did not agree with counties that proclaimed that they would not enforce lawful COVID restrictions due to political disagreement. Similarly, at this time I will not issue a blanket statement that I will not enforce laws that have been passed by the legislature. I do not believe that it is my place to override the decisions of duly elected members of the legislature.

“Every prosecutor has the right, and I believe, the duty, to take into account the specific circumstances of each case when deciding when to charge a crime or in deciding how to proceed in a case after a crime is charged. For example, we do not treat the teenager who assaults their parent because of an untreated mental health issue the same as we treat the spouse who batters their spouse, even though both crimes constitute domestic violence.

“I believe, however, that this exercise of discretion is different than announcing that a certain law will not be enforced in a county.

“It should be noted that in the case of Planned Parenthood of Michigan v Atty Gen of the State of Michigan, the Court of Claims has issued a preliminary injunction preventing prosecutors across the state from enforcing MCL 750.14, the state law that bans abortion.

“Thus, we all await further instruction from the courts on how to proceed. It is certainly possible, if not likely, that the Michigan Supreme Court will weigh in and find that there is a right to privacy, which includes the right to an abortion, implicit in the Michigan Constitution.”

Categories: Roe v. Wade