James Craig in Detroit during gubernatorial campaign announcement on Sept. 14,, 2021 | Ken Coleman
Republican gubernatorial candidate James Craig said if elected he would block any attempt by Democrats to repeal Michigan’s 90-year-old ban on abortion, according to a secret audio recording obtained by Metro Times.
The former Detroit police chief made the remark Thursday while talking with supporters after his speech at a campaign kickoff event in Marquette.
The 1931 law, which made it a felony to perform an abortion, was nullified following Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that women have a constitutional right to terminate their pregnancies. But abortion-rights advocates are worried that the ruling may be in jeopardy after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision earlier this month to let a Texas ban on most abortions remain in effect.
Democrats, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, are calling on lawmakers to repeal the ban in case Roe v. Wade is overturned. In February, state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) introduced a bill to repeal the abortion ban in Michigan.
In the recording, which was obtained and provided by American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal political action committee that conducts opposition research on Republicans, Craig is asked if he would stop Democrats “from undoing the law that makes abortion illegal in Michigan.”
“I will do whatever I can — I’m pro-life,” Craig responded.
Asked again if he supports blocking Democrats from “repealing that law,” Craig said, “Yes.”
Asked about the recording, Craig’s campaign didn’t directly respond to his remarks about the abortion ban.
“James Craig is unapologetically pro-life and opposes liberal efforts for abortion on demand, late term abortions, and partial birth abortions,” his campaign said in a written statement.
Abortion-rights advocates say Craig’s support for a complete ban on abortion is unpopular and would turn back the clock on women’s rights.
“The right to abortion is about freedom, bodily autonomy, and people who become pregnant determining their own futures,” Sam Inglot, deputy director of the progressive group Progress Michigan, tells Metro Times. “The fact that James Craig is willing to take that freedom away is incredibly regressive and dangerous. The idea of reverting to a nearly 100-year-old law that strips people of these rights is not the direction we want to go in the state.”
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Michigan’s law ban goes back into effect, women could be imprisoned for terminating their pregnancy, abortion-rights advocates point out.
“James Craig just said in no uncertain terms that he would do everything in his power to ensure that abortion is criminalized as manslaughter and make felons out of healthcare providers,” said Rodericka Applewhaite, spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party. “Thanks to a 1931 Michigan law that Craig is committed to keeping on the books, that’s exactly the hostile environment women and families would immediately face should Roe v. Wade get overturned. Already, the Supreme Court is set to hear a direct challenge to this crucial case at the end of the year. For the Detroit Dodger to choose this as the first clear answer of his candidacy proves that he’s been refusing to answer questions in the hopes that it would hide his extremist views from Michiganders.”
Craig has previously dodged questions about his position on abortion.
“Though he has desperately tried to hide his extreme positions, James Craig finally confirmed he stands by an extreme anti-abortion law that would virtually eliminate the freedom to decide and criminalize doctors for doing their jobs,” DNC spokesperson Adonna Biel said. “Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban has no place in the 21st century, and yet Craig is willing to stand by an arcane law in opposition to decades of precedent, and jeopardize the health of countless people.”
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