After Proposal 3’s passage, Whitmer requires state depts. to better protect reproductive rights
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer takes photos with Democratic lawmakers after a press conference celebrating the enactment of Proposal 3, which enshrines abortion rights in Michigan’s state constitution, on Dec. 14, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)
Following the passage of Proposal 3 in November, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive Wednesday instructing state departments and agencies to review aspects of reproductive rights that fall within their jurisdiction and identify ways they can protect and increase protections for abortion care.
Proposal 3, which codifies the right to abortion and other reproductive health care, will be enshrined in the Michigan Constitution on Dec. 24. The statewide proposal passed on Nov. 8 by a 13-point margin with 57% of the vote.
“In November, Michiganders of every background made history and sent a clear message: that a woman must be able to make her own health care decisions without the interference of politicians in Lansing,” Whitmer said during a Wednesday press conference in Lansing.
After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, abortion access has been temporarily protected in Michigan by a flurry of legal action and preliminary injunctions blocking enforcement of the state’s 1931 abortion ban — which Proposal 3 supersedes.
Whitmer said Wednesday’s executive directive is “the first step” to protecting abortion access in Michigan.
When the Advance asked during an interview after the press conference whether Whitmer would support legislation in the new term that would expand abortion access or repeal current laws that inhibit access, she said she was “open to all measures to streamline and to make sure that there’s access.”
“There are a lot of laws on the books that are contrary to the spirit of the constitutional amendment,” Whitmer said. “And there’s going to be a lot of work to do to make sure that statutory law reflects the constitutional amendment that we just passed.”
At the signing, Whitmer was joined by representatives from ACLU Michigan, Michigan Voices, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, reproductive health care providers and women who participated in roundtable discussions with the governor over the last year.
Sarah Williams speaks at a press conference with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer celebrating the enactment of Proposal 3, which enshrines abortion rights in Michigan's state constitution, on Dec. 14, 2022. Williams shared her personal story about abortion and previously attended a roundtable on abortion access with Whitmer. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)
Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, speaks at a press conference with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer celebrating the enactment of Proposal 3, which enshrines abortion rights in Michigan's state constitution, on Dec. 14, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)
“Proposal 3 created an opportunity for Michiganders to decide for Michigan,” said Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. “And as a result, we made Michigan one of the first states in the country to pass a citizen-led initiative constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights and restore the promise of Roe here in Michigan.”
Whitmer’s executive directive calls on departments and agencies to identify and assess their operations to “both ensure that they provide the maximum protection possible for reproductive freedom and that they identify opportunities to proactively increase protections for reproductive freedom.”
Departments and agencies must also identify any laws, regulations or policies within their jurisdiction that conflict with the constitutional right to reproductive freedom and work with the Attorney General to address these conflicts. Additionally, departments and agencies with enforcement responsibilities must continue to decline to cooperate in any investigation against an individual for obtaining, providing or assisting another to obtain or provide reproductive health care.
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