Gov. Whitmer Files Legal Brief to Prevent Enforcement of Extreme 1931 Abortion Ban 

LANSING, Mich. — Last night, Governor Gretchen Whitmer filed an amicus brief with the Michigan Supreme Court in support of preserving the statewide injunction issued in mid-May that prevents enforcement of Michigan’s extreme 1931 law banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest and criminalizing nurses and doctors who offer reproductive care. The motion is the latest in a string of recent legal actions the governor has taken to protect women and health care providers in Michigan.  

  

“Last night, I voiced my support in court to preserve the injunction blocking enforcement of Michigan’s extreme 1931 abortion ban throughout our state,” said Governor Whitmer. “The statewide injunction must remain in place until the Michigan Supreme Court can determine the constitutionality of abortion in Michigan. Recent fire drills and a legal patchwork that changes day to day, county to county prove that our current situation is unsustainable. We need clarity. Every day we delay, women will suffer and health care providers will wonder if their work will lead to prosecution. I will continue fighting like hell to keep abortion legal in Michigan and protect nurses and doctors from prosecution.” 

The amicus brief can be viewed here. 

Background on Today’s Amicus Brief 

On April 7, the Governor filed a lawsuit and urged the Michigan Supreme Court to determine if access to abortion is constitutionally protected in Michigan. The same day, Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed suit in the Michigan Court of Claims, seeking similar relief.  

On May 17, the Court of Claims issued a temporary injunction against the extreme 1931 abortion ban, keeping abortion safe and legal in Michigan. The ruling prevented county prosecutors from prosecuting nurses and doctors for offering reproductive care. The court ruled that the 1931 law likely violated the Michigan Constitution’s Due Process Clause and would result in “irreparable harm” if enforced.   

On August 1, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an order ruling that the May 17 injunction “does not apply to county prosecutors” because “jurisdiction of the Court of Claims does not extend to them.” Governor Whitmer took immediate action in response that same day, winning a temporary restraining order from the Oakland Circuit Court that prevented certain county prosecutors from prosecuting nurses and doctors for doing their jobs. 

The back and forth of these lower-court rulings just over the course of a single day made clear that the Michigan Supreme Court must act. The governor has already filed multiple motions with the court, urging them to consider her lawsuit to determine the constitutionality of abortion in Michigan.  

Right now, women and health care providers may be confused about the legal status of abortion in Michigan. That is why the governor filed an amicus brief today supporting an extension of the injunction granted on May 17 by the Court of Claims. To protect Michiganders from suffering irreparable harm to their rights and their health, abortion must remain legal in Michigan and the 1931 law must be blocked until the Michigan Supreme Court rules.  

Governor Whitmer’s Actions to Protect Reproductive Freedom 

  • April 7: Filed a lawsuit to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s constitution protects the right to an abortion.   
  • April 7: Penned an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press explaining her action and highlighting that 7 in 10 Michiganders support the rights affirmed by Roe.  
  • May 3: Joined 16 other states to urge the United States Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and enshrine Roe’s protections in federal law.  
  • May 9: Penned an op-ed in the New York Times explaining why she isn’t waiting for Congress to act and urging fellow pro-choice governors, state representatives, private businesses, and citizens to take action to protect reproductive rights.  
  • May 25: Signed an executive directive instructing state of Michigan departments and agencies to identify and assess opportunities to increase protections for reproductive healthcare, such as contraception. The executive directive also instructs departments 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 healthcare that is legal where the health care is provided.  
  • June 23: Launched a new consumer website to educate Michiganders about the availability of no-cost contraception with most insurance plans.  
  • June 24: On the day of the Dobbs decision, filed a motion urging the Court to immediately consider her lawsuit.  
  • June 27: Followed up with an additional notice to the Court urging them to immediately consider her lawsuit. 
  • June 29: Sent a letter to Michigan’s insurers urging them to take steps to ensure Michiganders have coverage for reproductive health care to the fullest extent possible under current coverage.  
  • July 6: Joined with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to launch a public effort to educate Michiganders and health care providers about the difference between emergency contraception and medication abortion. The public effort will disseminate information about the differences between medication abortion and emergency contraception to all local health departments throughout Michigan, healthcare providers throughout the state, and the public.  
  • July 7: Called on the federal government to clarify and protect Michiganders’ right to cross the US-Canada border to seek reproductive health care or prescription medication including medication abortion.  
  • July 11: Urged President Biden to make birth control available over the counter without a prescription. 
  • July 13: Signed an executive order refusing to extradite women or health care providers who come to Michigan seeking reproductive freedom. 
  • July 22: Called on FDA to reduce barriers to medication abortion. 
  • August 1: Secured a restraining order blocking certain county prosecutors from enforcing the 1931 abortion ban after a court cleared a path for them to do so earlier on the same day. 
  • August 3: Went to court to defend the restraining order and won. 

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