Officials stress abortion remains legal in Michigan after latest SCOTUS abortion pill ruling

By: - April 24, 2023 8:52 am

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spends time with people attending a rally protesting the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. | Photo by Andrew Roth

Michigan leaders are weighing in following the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that continues nationwide access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

The court issued a stay early Friday evening in the court case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, filed by anti-abortion organizations that reversed lower court rulings about when and how the abortion medication should be available.

U.S. Supreme Court preserves access to abortion pill as lawsuit continues

The ruling by the high court means the abortion pill will remain on the market for now without the limitations placed on it by the appeals court.

In reaction to the decision, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released a statement noting that Michiganders would continue to access mifepristone, which blocks a hormone called progesterone that is needed for a pregnancy to continue and is one of two drugs used in a medication abortion.

“We need to be clear about why this case came before the court in the first place: a fringe, extreme minority that refuses to follow science or respect Americans’ freedoms is judge shopping to impose their agenda on women,” said Whitmer, who called mifepristone “a common abortion and miscarriage management medication that has been safely prescribed and used for decades under FDA approval.”

“A majority of Americans understand that the decision to become a parent or grow a family is one of the biggest economic decisions a person will make in their lifetime, and support freedom for women to make this decision for themselves and their families — without the interference of politicians,” she continued. 

Whitmer noted that voters in November passed Proposal 3, which enshrines abortion rights in the state Constitution, and she signed legislation axing the state’s 1931 abortion ban.

Also speaking out on the ruling was Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Attorney General Dana Nessel on Oct. 3, 2022 | Ken Coleman

“First things first: abortion remains legal and available in the state of Michigan,” she said. “This ruling may feel like a victory, and it’s certainly not a defeat, but let’s be clear eyed about what transpired. (Friday), was a night where women across this country didn’t lose access to a proven, effective, and safe prescription medication that has been relied upon for twenty years and is currently used in over half of all abortions. While this fight is still far from over, I remain steadfast in my commitment to protect reproductive freedom for women all across our great state.”

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Hills) also released a statement after the ruling, saying that while access was maintained for now, reproductive rights remained under serious threat.

“It’s clear that Republicans are working relentlessly to make abortion illegal across the country,” he said. “This is personal for me, and I will keep fighting to protect women’s rights to make these extremely personal, private decisions with their doctors — and without interference from politicians or judges.”

Peters, who revealed in 2020 that his first wife, Heidi, had to have an abortion because her life was at risk,  joined an amicus brief to the Supreme Court opposing the lower court rulings and underscoring that the previous ruling has no basis in law, risks denying patients’ access to a safe and effective medication widely used in abortion care and miscarriage management, and jeopardizes patients’ access to a wide array of other medications by threatening FDA’s drug approval process.

Anti-abortion activists were cautiously optimistic the ruling maintaining access was a necessary first step toward a permanent ban.

“I’m Right to Life, so we don’t like abortion in general because obviously the unborn child is killed every single time in an abortion,” Legislative Director of Right to Life of Michigan Genevieve Marnon told FOX-2 Detroit

Right to Life Legislative Day display, May 3, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Marnon thought it “wise” that the courts go back and take a look at how mifepristone was approved by the FDA in 2000, insisting it was done “unlawfully.”

However, Paula Thornton Greear, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, has vehemently disputed that assertion.

“Mifepristone is safe and effective, and has been used by more than five million people since the FDA approved it more than 20 years ago. There is no medical or scientific debate about its safety. This is a baseless case brought by anti-abortion activists who seek to restrict or eliminate access to abortion by any means possible.”

Planned Parenthood of Michigan also tweeted: “This is good news, but the facts remain the same: Access to mifepristone should never have been in jeopardy in the first place.”


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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.