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Whitmer Statement on Winning a Preliminary Injunction Against Extreme 1931 Law Banning Abortion


August 19, 2022



Gov. Whitmer Statement on Winning a Preliminary Injunction Against Extreme 1931 Law Banning Abortion, Criminalizing Nurses and Doctors

LANSING, Mich.Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued the following statement after Oakland County Circuit Judge Jacob Cunningham entered a preliminary injunction against enforcement of Michigan’s extreme 1931 abortion law, which bans abortion without exception for rape or incest and criminalizes nurses and doctors for doing their jobs. 

Governor Whitmer Statement

“I am grateful for this ruling that will protect women and ensure nurses and doctors can keep caring for their patients without fear of prosecution. I am particularly grateful to Attorney General Dana Nessel and her team for their work on behalf of the state.

“The lack of legal clarity about abortion in Michigan has already caused far too much confusion for women who deserve certainty about their health care, and hardworking medical providers who should be able to do their jobs without worrying about being thrown behind bars. Once, over the course of a single day, abortion was legal in the morning, illegal around lunch time, and legal in the evening. We cannot have this kind of whiplash about something as fundamental as a woman’s right to control her own body. Michigan women are understandably scared and angry, and they deserve better than being treated as second class citizens. 

“While today is welcome news, my team and I will remain vigilant in protecting reproductive freedom. The sad reality is that a number of leaders in the state are actively looking for ways to make sure Michigan’s draconian 1931 law, which bans abortion for all women, doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest, and criminalizes nurses and doctors who offer reproductive care, is the law of the land. I am proud of my team today, but our work continues. 

“Back in April, I filed a lawsuit and asked the Michigan Supreme Court to determine if abortion is constitutionally protected in Michigan. While we wait for the Supreme Court to rule, I will continue using every tool in my toolbox to fight like hell for women and health care providers.”

Background on Injunction

A few weeks ago, the Michigan Court of Appeals cleared a path for county prosecutors to enforce the 1931 law and prosecute doctors and nurses for doing their jobs. The same day, Governor Whitmer fought for and won a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the law in the Oakland County Circuit Court. 

The governor’s legal team appeared in Oakland County Circuit Court aiming to get a preliminary injunction, offering longer-lasting legal relief, against the extreme 1931 law banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and putting nurses and doctors at risk of prosecution for doing their jobs.

Background on Extreme 1931 Abortion Ban

Michigan has a law from 1931 on the books banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and allowing doctors and nurses who offer reproductive care to be prosecuted. The Republican majority in the Michigan Legislature has been in court defending the extreme 1931 abortion ban and multiple county prosecutors are prepared to prosecute if they have a legal opening and put nurses and doctors behind bars.

Governor Whitmer’s Family First Investments

Since taking office, the governor has taken several actions to ensure that Michiganders can start families when they are ready and have the support they need to raise their children.

The governor launched the ‘Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies’ program to ensure women have what they need to have a healthy pregnancy. The recent, bipartisan budget the governor signed allocates $20 million to expand the program to benefit an estimated 35,000 pregnant and postpartum women in Michigan annually. 

To support children in their formative years, Governor Whitmer implemented paid family leave for all of the nearly 47,000 State of Michigan employees. Parents should be able to be with and support their children after birth, and she has called on the legislature to expand this critical, pro-family benefit to all Michigan parents. 

The governor has also worked across the aisle to make record investments in child care, expanding free or low-cost childcare to an additional 150,000 kids, or 40% of Michiganders 12 and under. Quality, affordable child care helps parents go back to work knowing that their kids are safe and cared for. For Michiganders considering adoption, the budget that Governor Whitmer negotiated increases support to foster families, guardians, and adoptive families by 20%, sending over $25 million directly to families.

For Michiganders who are not yet ready to start a family, Governor Whitmer has been clear that women and qualified medical providers should be making health care decisions—not politicians.

Governor Whitmer’s Actions to Protect Reproductive Freedom

  • April 7: Filed a lawsuit to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s constitution protects the right to an abortion.
  • April 7: Penned an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press explaining her action and highlighting that 7 in 10 Michiganders support the rights affirmed by Roe.
  • May 3: Joined 16 other states to urge the United States Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and enshrine Roe’s protections in federal law.
  • May 9: Penned an op-ed in the New York Times explaining why she isn’t waiting for Congress to act and urging fellow pro-choice governors, state representatives, private businesses, and citizens to take action to protect reproductive rights.
  • May 25: Signed an executive directive instructing state of Michigan departments and agencies to identify and assess opportunities to increase protections for reproductive healthcare, such as contraception. The executive directive also instructs departments not to cooperate with or assist authorities of any state in any investigation or proceeding against anyone for obtaining, providing, or assisting someone else to obtain or provide reproductive healthcare that is legal where the health care is provided.
  • June 23: Launched a new consumer website to educate Michiganders about the availability of no-cost contraception with most insurance plans.
  • June 24: On the day of the Dobbs decision, filed a motion urging the Court to immediately consider her lawsuit.
  • June 27: Followed up with an additional notice to the Court urging them to immediately consider her lawsuit.
  • June 29: Sent a letter to Michigan’s insurers urging them to take steps to ensure Michiganders have coverage for reproductive health care to the fullest extent possible under current coverage.
  • July 6: Joined with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to launch a public effort to educate Michiganders and health care providers about the difference between emergency contraception and medication abortion. The public effort will disseminate information about the differences between medication abortion and emergency contraception to all local health departments throughout Michigan, healthcare providers throughout the state, and the public.
  • July 7: Called on the federal government to clarify and protect Michiganders’ right to cross the US-Canada border to seek reproductive health care or prescription medication including medication abortion.
  • July 11: Urged President Biden to make birth control available over the counter without a prescription.
  • July 13: Signed an executive order refusing to extradite women or health care providers who come to Michigan seeking reproductive freedom.
  • July 22: Called on FDA to reduce barriers to medication abortion.
  • August 1: Secured a restraining order blocking certain county prosecutors from enforcing the 1931 abortion ban after a court cleared a path for them to do so earlier on the same day.
  • August 3: Went to court to defend the restraining order and won.
  • August 4: Filed renewed request with Michigan Supreme Court to protect right to abortion.
  • August 4: Submitted legal brief to prevent enforcement of extreme 1931 abortion ban.
  • August 10: Filed motion for a preliminary injunction against extreme 1931 abortion ban with Oakland County Circuit Court.