DePerno seeks to outlaw Plan B emergency contraceptive in Michigan, compares it to fentanyl

The GOP attorney general nominee initially didn’t appear to know what the emergency contraceptive pill is when asked about his position

Sep 21, 2022 at 9:56 am
click to enlarge Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general Matt DePerno campaigns in Lansing on Aug. 27, 2022. - Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue
Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general Matt DePerno campaigns in Lansing on Aug. 27, 2022.

The man who is running to be Michigan’s next attorney general says the Plan B contraceptive pill should be banned.

As reported by Heartland Signal, at an event last month, GOP attorney general nominee Matthew DePerno initially didn’t appear to know what Plan B is when asked about his position. It’s an emergency contraceptive pill that can prevent a pregnancy if taken within five days of intercourse. Commonly known as the morning after pill, it is not an abortifacient, a medication that can terminate a pregnancy, which is typically used for only up to the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

After learning what Plan B is, DePerno then said that if it was up to him, Plan B would be treated no differently than the deadly narcotic fentanyl.

“You gotta figure out how to ban the pill from the state,” DePerno said in a recording of a conversation at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Texas last month. “You have to stop it at the border. It would be no different than fentanyl. The state has to ban it, and it should be banned. But it’s just an issue of how do you enforce it; how do you make sure that it stops? That’s your problem.”

The audio was reportedly provided to Heartland Signal by a Democratic source on the condition of anonymity. 

DePerno also opposes abortion rights and supports Michigan’s 1931 criminalizing abortion, which is currently on hold during legal action.

DePerno’s remarks even caught the attention of the White House.

“Another week and another extreme and backwards proposal from Republican officials that will strip women of their rights,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told the Detroit Free Press. “Make no mistake: these proposals from Republican officials expand far beyond a woman’s right to choose; there are Republican officials that want to ban contraception.”

In response to the report, Mini Timmaraju, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation’s oldest abortion rights advocacy group, released a statement condemning DePerno.

“The anti-choice GOP never intended to stop at ending Roe, and Matt DePerno’s admission that he wants to end emergency contraception should put us all on high alert,” said Timmaraju. “Make no mistake: if elected, Matt DePerno’s policies would put the lives and well-being of countless Michiganders in danger.”

This is not the first time DePerno has signaled his antipathy toward contraceptive rights. 

In February, he said at an attorney general debate that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1965 decision in Griswold v. Connecticut and 1973 Roe v. Wade decision were state’s rights decisions that were wrongly decided.

“Too many people, even in our own party, too many people have lost the idea of what states’ rights means,” DePerno said. “They haven’t read the works of our Founding Fathers. They haven’t read ‘The Federalist Papers.’ They continue to push the idea that we need to give rights away to the federal government. We don’t. We need to take state rights back. We need to stand in our borders. When the feds come and try to take our rights, we need to stand as citizens in Michigan and hold the line and protect states’ rights.”

The landmark Griswold decision cited a “right to marital privacy,” and helped to pave the way for 1973’s Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion until SCOTUS overturned it in June.

However, the Detroit Free Press reports that DePerno backed away from saying contraception should be banned during an interview this week with its editorial board ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

House Democrats introduced a resolution in March stating that Griswold was correctly decided and affirming the right to birth control. The GOP-controlled Legislature has not taken it up.

“It reaffirms our belief that to take away an individual’s right to birth control is to take away the fundamental right to privacy, bodily integrity and family planning,” said sponsor Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp.).

DePerno, who is challenging Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel on the November ballot, is under criminal investigation for allegedly tampering with voting equipment following the 2020 election. Nessel supports the rights to contraception and abortion and opposes Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban.

When asked to comment, Sarah Stevenson, Nessel campaign spokesperson, told the Michigan Advance that the Plan B comments should come as no surprise.

“We already know Matt DePerno holds radical views on a woman’s right to control her own reproductive choices – he has long said that if he’s elected, he’ll ban abortion without any exceptions for rape, incest or health of the pregnant woman, and he’s also said the right to contraception should be decided by politicians at the state level,” said Stevenson. 

“But that apparently doesn’t go far enough, because now he says Plan B should be banned in Michigan and kept out of the state by border patrol, comparing it to the deadly opiate fentanyl – which is completely absurd. He’s being crystal clear about how little respect he has for women’s autonomy and their right to plan a family on their own timeline, and voters deserve to know how dangerous he would be if elected attorney general.”

Originally published Sept. 21 by Michigan Advance. It is republished with permission.

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