LANSING, Mich. — Any day now, the United States Supreme Court is poised to rule on Roe V. Wade. If the court overturned or gutted that 1973 ruling, it could set Michigan health care for women back essentially a century.
The ACLU of Michigan filed a historic lawsuit Thursday asking the state to protect a woman's right to abortion under our own state constitution.
The suit is filed on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Michigan abortion provider Dr. Sarah Wallett. It asks the court to act fast so regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, there is no lapse of care for women.
If Roe V. Wade is overturned or gutted, it would revert Michigan state law back to 1931. The state has a 90-year-old felony abortion ban in place, put there back when nationwide abortion bans were common.
Roe V. Wade made that 1931 law not enforceable, but without it, Michigan prosecutors could go across the state and arrest doctors and nurses performing abortions.
"When we criminalize that practice we force pregnant people to have to really make hard decisions about how to seek that care elsewhere. And that might mean that they have to travel really far distances in order to seek care in another state. Many people can't afford to do that, don't have the means or the resources to do that. And so they might resort to really unsafe and dangerous ways to self-manage abortions, and that is definitely not what anyone wants to happen in our state," said Bonsitu Kitaba, Deputy Legal Director, ACLU of Michigan.
Meanwhile, Governor Gretchen Whitmer filed a separate lawsuit on the matter Thursday.
Today I’m filing a lawsuit to keep abortion legal in Michigan. With SCOTUS’ willingness to overturn Roe v Wade, I'm using my authority as governor to go directly to Michigan's Supreme Court to urge them to decide if abortion is constitutional. It’s bold but necessary. Here's why:
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) April 7, 2022
The governor is using her power to file directly with Michigan's Supreme Court to ask it to decide if abortion is legal.
The governor released this statement:
“In the coming weeks, we will learn if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade. If Roe is overturned, abortion could become illegal in Michigan in nearly any circumstance—including in cases of rape and incest— and deprive Michigan women of the ability to make critical health care decisions for themselves. 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.
However, we personally feel about abortion, a woman’s health, not politics, should drive important medical decisions. A woman must be able to make her own medical decisions with the advice of a healthcare professional she trusts – politicians shouldn’t make that decision for her.
Overturning Roe will criminalize abortion and impact nearly 2.2 million Michigan women. If a woman is forced to continue a pregnancy against her will, it can have devastating consequences, including keeping families in poverty and making it harder for women and families to make ends meet. A near total abortion ban would rob women of their reproductive freedom and the ability to decide whether and when to have a child. It also would rob women of their economic freedom and their right to decide whether to become a parent: the biggest economic decision a woman will make in her lifetime. No matter what happens to Roe, I am going to fight like hell and use all the tools I have as governor to ensure reproductive freedom is a right for all women in Michigan. If the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to protect the constitutional right to an abortion, the Michigan Supreme Court should step in. We must trust women—our family, neighbors, and friends—to make decisions that are best for them about their bodies and lives.”
The ACLU of Michigan filed with the court of claims, along with a preliminary injunction. That injunction should speed up the process. The ACLU said access to safe healthcare is a Michigan value.
Dr. Sarah Wallett, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of Michigan released this statement: I’m an abortion provider, and the care my colleagues and I provide every day to our patients is essential to their ability to lead the lives they choose. I joined this suit because it is fundamental to my oath as a physician to do no harm – and being forced to deny abortion care and violating the basic rights of my patients would cause them immense, irreversible harm. Michiganders deserve to know that the health care they have relied on for 50 years will be there when they need it, no matter what.