by Bruce Walker
An executive directive issued by Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer aims to eliminate any state department and agency barriers to contraception and abortion.
The directive instructs all “State of Michigan departments and agencies to review aspects of reproductive health care that fall within their jurisdiction and identify and assess potential opportunities to increase protections for reproductive health care, such as contraception, long-acting reversible contraception, and emergency contraception,” according to a release issued Wednesday morning by the governor’s office.
“The right to safe, legal abortion in the State of Michigan is under attack,” Whitmer said in a statement. “According to the recent draft opinion in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn soon, taking away a right that Americans have had for 49 years. If Roe is overturned, Roe v Wade Michigan’s 1931 law banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest and criminalizing doctors and nurses may go back into effect. This would punish women – our neighbors, family, and friends – and criminalize doctors and nurses for doing their jobs.”
The executive directive requires state of Michigan departments and agencies:
- Not to cooperate with or assist authorities of any state in any investigation or proceeding against anyone for obtaining, providing, or assisting someone else to obtain or provide reproductive health care that is legal where the health care is provided.
- Identify and assess potential opportunities to increase protections for reproductive health care, consistent with applicable law.
- Detail how they can increase choice available to protect mental, physical, and reproductive health; safeguard the privacy of individuals seeking care; and assure the safety of reproductive health-care providers.
- Provide, when applicable, accessible, comprehensive information about the current cost and availability of reproductive care and increase public awareness about the availability and safety of contraception.
“In preparation for this very real possibility, I am signing an executive directive instructing all state departments and agencies not to cooperate with authorities from other states who want to prosecute women seeking legal abortion care,” the governor continued. “Also, the directive instructs departments and agencies to increase protections for reproductive health care within their purview and offer residents comprehensive information about the cost and availability of care.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has already declared her department will not enforce the 1931 law should it be triggered if the U.S Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
“No woman should be forced to choose between exercising her personal health-care decisions and the threat of criminal prosecution,” Nessel said in a statement. “I applaud Governor Whitmer for drawing a line in the sand and making clear no state of Michigan department or agency will aid in the persecution of women who would seek medical care in our state. It is incumbent upon those of us who hold public office to exercise the full authority of our positions to extend support and protection for women in our state – and our country. That is why I have made clear that I will not use the resources of my office to enforce or defend Michigan’s 1931 statute criminalizing abortion. I refuse to put millions of Michigan women at risk by restricting their access to safe abortions.”
Both Whitmer and Nessel have participated in legal maneuvers aimed at neutralizing the 1931 anti-abortion law. In Whitmer’s lawsuit and Executive Message last month, the governor argues the 1931 law violates the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution.
Nessel’s office was named as plaintiff in a case filed by Planned Parenthood in which Michigan 2nd Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, a longtime abortion legal advocate and donor, issued a preliminary injunction against the 1931 law.
On Friday, the Alliance Defending Freedom – a legal team representing county prosecutors, Michigan Right to Life, and The Michigan Catholic Coalition – filed a complaint against Gleicher’s injunction in which they asked the appeals court to immediately consider issuing an order requiring the Court of Claims to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.
The ADF motion for immediate consideration was granted Wednesday by Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Stephen L. Borrello.
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.
Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by Gretchen Whitmer.