Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called on Americans to “take unprecedented steps to protect” abortion rights in an op-ed published in The New York Times.
Saying a federal abortion ban is possible if “anti-choice, anti-women extremists” get their way, Whitmer urged “my fellow pro-choice governors, state legislators, private sector leaders and citizens to use every available tool to protect access to safe, legal abortions.”
Whitmer filed a preemptive lawsuit last month that argues abortion is protected under the state constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses. It’s a critical argument that could determine whether women have a right to abortion access in Michigan if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision in 1973 that established the right for people to terminate their pregnancy.
Michigan is among 26 states with anti-abortion laws that would kick in if the case is overturned.
“I hope that my novel lawsuit can offer a course of action for others to follow,” Whitmer wrote. “I encourage my fellow pro-choice governors, state legislators, private sector leaders and citizens to use every available tool to protect access to safe, legal abortions.”
Whitmer also called on the U.S. Senate to approve legislation passed by the U.S. House that would enact abortion rights as law. Although Democrats have a thin majority in the Senate, they have been hindered by centrist Democrats, Republicans, and the filibuster, a procedural rule that requires 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to advance most legislation.
“I implore senators to come together and get it done,” Whitmer wrote. “But I am not going to sit on my hands waiting for Congress to do something.”
With so much at stake, Whitmer urged Americans to “get creative” and “engage in every way and at every level.”
“If we do not use every lever of power we have right now, or if we succumb to complacency, Americans will suffer and may die,” she wrote. “Many will be out of sight, forgotten. Most will be poor. A sizable contingent will be women of color. We can all sense the hopelessness and despair that tens of millions of American women — our neighbors, family members and friends — are feeling. But despair is a choice, and pessimism is a luxury. We must take unprecedented steps to protect the right to choose.”
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