Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive directive Wednesday telling state agencies to not cooperate with any other state or authority attempting to prosecute anyone who obtains, provides or assists with obtaining an abortion or other forms of reproductive health care.
The directive also calls on applicable agencies to increase protections for reproductive health care and take steps to raise awareness about availability of reproductive health care and forms of contraception.
“However we personally feel about abortion, health, not politics, should drive important medical decisions,” Whitmer said in a statement. “A woman must be able to make her own medical decisions with the advice of a healthcare professional she trusts. Politicians should not make that decision for her.”
Additionally, the directive calls on state departments and agencies to:
- Review aspects of reproductive health care that fall under their jurisdiction and identify any opportunity to increase protections for reproductive health care.
- Submit a review to Whitmer’s office in the next 30 days detailing how to increase health choices on mental, physical and reproductive health, provide care for individuals who undergo miscarriages, protect the privacy of individuals seeking health care, and provide safety for health care providers.
- Departments communicating directly with the public must provide information on costs and availability on reproductive health care.
- Increase public awareness on the availability and effectiveness of different forms of contraception.
The directive is effective immediately, per the governor’s office.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides information to Michiganders on reproductive health.
An MDHHS spokesperson said the department is reviewing current policies to determine what, if any changes are needed to comply with the directive as well as increase protections for reproductive health care.
Reproductive health services provided through MDHHS include preventative health exams, pregnancy diagnosis and counseling, contraception methods, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, referrals to services beyond MDHHS’ capacity and more, the spokesperson said.
Wednesday’s directive comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to issue a ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — a case that could result in the overturning of nearly 50 years of constitutional protection for abortion access at the federal level.
In early May, a leaked draft opinion indicated a majority of the court’s justices were prepared to issue a ruling in Dobbs that would overturn Roe v. Wade, which has provided federal protections for abortion since 1973.
Whitmer and other state officials have taken steps to get ahead of any Roe reversal — in April, she asked the Michigan Supreme Court to hear a case to determine whether the 1931 state statute banning most abortions is constitutional. The court has agreed to take the case up.
A second lawsuit, filed by Planned Parenthood of Michigan against Attorney General Dana Nessel, resulted in a temporary injunction ruling from Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher on May 17 against enforcing the statute May 17. Nessel has vowed not to appeal the injunction, but conservative groups have asked the Michigan Court of Appeals to overturn the injunction.
“It is incumbent upon those of us who hold public office to exercise the full authority of our positions to extend support and protection for women in our state — and our country,” Nessel said in a statement. “That is why I have made clear that I will not use the resources of my office to enforce or defend Michigan’s 1931 statute criminalizing abortion.”