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In Michigan, abortion could come down to voters in November

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who is up for reelection this fall, speaks to abortion-rights protesters at a rally following the U.S Supreme Court's decision to overturn <em>Roe v. Wade</em> outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., Friday, June 24, 2022.
Paul Sancya
/
AP
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who is up for reelection this fall, speaks to abortion-rights protesters at a rally following the U.S Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., Friday, June 24, 2022.

In Michigan, the right to an abortion is teetering. Republicans who control the state legislature want to enforce a 1931 abortion ban that's still on the books. Democrats, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have vowed not to let that happen.

The Michigan Supreme Court

Whether or not abortion will remain legal in the state could come down to another high court, the Michigan Supreme Court. That's because earlier this year, Gov. Whitmer used a special Michigan executive power to ask the court to rule without an actual case before them on the constitutionality of that 1931 law. That law had been dormant since 1973 because of Roe v. Wade.

Another case brought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan is also looking for a ruling on the constitutionality of the law. Just last month, a Michigan Court of Claims judge issued a preliminary injunction, which means right now, until the Michigan Supreme Court rules, abortion is still legal in Michigan.

What's at stake in November

Michigan is a purple state. Whitmer and the attorney general are both Democrats, but the state House and state Senate are both controlled by Republicans and many Republican lawmakers are really happy with the decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday.

Last week, a group of conservative members of the legislature introduced bills that would even further punish abortion providers in Michigan. Whitmer says she would veto any legislation like that.

"Dangerous abortion bans take away our rights and put women's health and lives at risk," she said in response to the bills at a rally Friday night outside the state Capitol. "If you know a Republican or independent who values women's rights, we've got to invite them to join us."

Republicans trying to oust Whitmer

Tudor Dixon is one of five Republicans running to be the GOP nominee to run against Whitmer in November. And just like the other four candidates, she is fervently anti-abortion. In fact, earlier this month, Dixon received the endorsement from Right to Life of Michigan, which is a big get in Michigan Republican politics.

There's also Ryan Kelley. He gained a lot of attention recently when he was arrested at his home by the FBI for his involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He released a provocative statement after the Supreme Court decision saying that he would fight until "we remove this scourge of abortion from the state of Michigan."

Another option for voters

There is currently a petition drive trying to amend the state constitution that would enshrine reproductive rights regardless of the 1931 statute. The deadline to submit enough signatures to get on the November ballot is just a couple of weeks away. If there are enough valid signatures, the question would go to voters in Michigan who would then get to vote on the issue. And, of course, that could make a difference in turnout for the November election when Whitmer is up for reelection.

Copyright 2022 Michigan Radio

Zoe Clark