Whitmer garners fierce criticism, ardent praise for abortion lawsuit

Anti-abortion rights political candidates denounced a legal effort from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that asks the Michigan Supreme Court to determine the state Constitution ensures a right to an abortion.

But supporters heralded the move, echoing the governor's view that a 1931 law that would ban most abortions in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade as unconstitutional.

Court observers believe the U.S. Supreme Court may use a Mississippi case to overturn Roe before the end of its current term in June. The new lawsuit from Whitmer, filed Thursday in Oakland County, seeks to get ahead of that decision.

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There's no guarantee the Michigan Supreme Court will agree with Whitmer that the case should leapfrog the traditional legal channels and immediately land with the state's highest court. And despite Democratic justices comprising a 4-3 majority on the court, it's far from a sure bet that they'll determine the state constitution includes a right to abortion or that the 1931 law is unconstitutional.

It's a battle that will garner substantial attention and scrutiny as millions wait for action at a national level.

Critical of Whitmer's lawsuit

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing:

"This is a frivolous lawsuit that should be immediately dismissed by the Michigan Supreme Court. Governor Whitmer is ignoring the voices of Michiganders by bypassing all lower courts and court precedent just as the U.S. Supreme Court did when they decided on Roe v. Wade.

"In 1997, the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in Mahaffey v. Attorney General thereby affirming the opinion issued by the Court of Appeals that there is no right to abortion found in the Michigan Constitution. The Michigan Supreme Court based its decision to decline the appeal because they had already ruled on the legality of abortion in the 1973 case of People v. Bricker and thus allowed the Court of Appeals opinion to stand."

Michigan Catholic Conference Policy Advocate Rebecca Mastee, in a statement:

"While the legality of abortion is contingent upon democratic structures, it is unfortunate that the judicial branch is being used to try to invalidate a longstanding policy approved by elected representatives and left untouched by the Legislature for nearly a century since. ... Our hope is that a greater respect for the distinct and separate branches of state government returns to the political sphere, and we pray for a deeper appreciation for the life and protection of unborn children in the hearts and minds of the citizens and elected officials of the state.”

Tudor Dixon, Republican candidate for her party's nomination for governor, on Twitter:

"If Democrat politicians worked 1/10th as hard on policies to build up American families as they do on policies to promote and allow abortion on demand…there wouldn’t be much demand for abortion. The American family is under attack by liberal elites who hate the American people."

David Kallman, senior legal counsel with the conservative Great Lakes Justice Center:

"Gov. Whitmer should not be wasting her time and taxpayer dollars to bring such irresponsible lawsuits. And Attorney General Nessel should not be enabling her in an attempt to circumvent the Legislature and the will of the people.”

More: Michigan advocates create petition to add abortion rights in state constitution

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Supporting Whitmer's lawsuit

Seven Democratic prosecutors serving Wayne, Oakland, Ingham, Genesee, Washtenaw, Kalamazoo and Marquette counties, in a joint statement:

"Michigan’s anti-abortion statutes were written and passed in 1931...We believe those laws are in conflict with the oath we took to support the United States and Michigan Constitutions, and to act in the best interest of the health and safety of our communities. We cannot and will not support criminalizing reproductive freedom or creating unsafe, untenable situations for health care providers and those who seek abortions in our communities."

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Waterford, on Twitter:

"Thank you, @GovWhitmer. If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, abortion would immediately become illegal in Michigan and 2.2 million women would lose their right to reproductive freedom. I’m going to fight like hell alongside Governor Whitmer to make sure that doesn’t happen."

State Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, on Twitter:

"With RvW on the line and abortion access in Michigan in peril along with it, the Governor has made an important announcement because 'health — not politics — should drive important medical decisions.' ”

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4. Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Whitmer garners fierce criticism, ardent praise for abortion lawsuit