© 2022 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Whitmer Asks Legislature To Repeal Abortion Ban Statute

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Gov. Whitmer speaks during a press conference in March of 2020.

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 US Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision.

Whitmer issued a statement after the US 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 boos 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 Thankfully, that dangerous, outdated law is superseded by Roe v. Wade, but if the US Supreme Court overturns Roe, that Michigan law and others like it may go back into effect in dozens of states, disproportionately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 reelection intentions.

News from WKAR will never be behind a paywall. Ever. We need your help to keep our coverage free for everyone. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. You can support our journalism for as little as $5. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.