Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Urges Repeal of 90-Year-Old Law Banning Abortion

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is working with the state legislature to repeal a 90-year-old abortion ban in case Roe vs. Wade is overturned.

Whitmer reached out to the Republican-controlled state legislature in Michigan on Tuesday to move toward canceling the 1931 law, which makes it a felony to perform an abortion.

Whitmer cited concerns regarding the increased possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court reversing women's constitutional right to abortion due to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on September 1 regarding abortions in Texas.

Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is working with the state legislature to repeal a 90-year-old abortion ban. Above, Whitmer speaks during a drive-in campaign rally for then-presidential nominee Joe Biden on October 31, 2020, in Detroit, Michigan. Getty Images

"Recently, Texas passed a new, extreme anti-choice law that puts people's lives at risk, and threatens healthcare workers," Whitmer said in a statement Tuesday.

"The insidious law essentially bans abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, and allows strangers to sue medical professionals or anyone who helps women get the comprehensive healthcare they need," Whitmer continued.

"It is a gross violation of the constitutional right to choose, and the Court's decision to allow it to stay in place sets the United States on a dangerous path towards overturning Roe v. Wade."

Whitmer warned that the Texas decision could mean trouble when it comes to "equally extreme state laws awaiting action in the Supreme Court that would completely overturn Roe v. Wade."

"If the court's decision in the Texas case is any indication, a majority of justices are willing to throw out the constitutional right to choose that has been in place for 48 years and repeatedly upheld for decades," she said, stressing that overturning of Roe vs. Wade would "disproportionately impact Black and brown communities."

"I have always stood with those fighting for their right to choose, and I will not stop now."

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey stated that GOP legislative leaders aren't in favor of abortion and will not support Whitmer's request.

"We will not be supporting any such repeal," Shirkey said in a statement. "The primary charge of any government or government official is to protect the life of the innocent.

"Michigan Senate Republicans will not waiver from this fundamental duty to protect the sanctity of life," Shirkey concluded.

Michigan is currently among eight states with unenforced, pre-Roe abortion bans, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which is a fact-finding group that supports abortion rights.

Whitmer said in a statement to Newsweek that, "Texas' new, extreme anti-choice law hurts women and threatens healthcare workers."

"It is a gross infringement on reproductive rights and freedoms, and the Supreme Court's decision to allow it to stay in place functionally overturns Roe v. Wade. The insidious law essentially bans abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, and allows strangers to sue medical professionals or anyone who helps women get the healthcare they need."

The governor added that "the impacts of this decision are potentially catastrophic for the right to choose."

"Here in Michigan, abortion is safe and legal, but due to an arcane law on the books from the 1930s banning abortions and criminalizing healthcare providers who offer these essential services. Thankfully, that law is superseded by Roe v. Wade, which affirms the constitutional right to reproductive choice."

Whitmer warned that if the Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v.s. Wade, "a ban on abortion will go back into effect in dozens of states, including Michigan."

"I have always stood with those fighting for their right to choose, and I will not stop now. I will stand in the way of any bills that seek to strip away fundamental rights from women or get in the way of doctors' ability to do their jobs," she said.

Update (9/20/2021, 6:17 p.m.): This article has been updated to include a statement from Gretchen Whitmer.