Roe Is Dead. Michiganders Are Devastated. Republicans Are Celebrating.

By Kyle Kaminski, Hope O'Dell

June 24, 2022

“Even though we knew it was coming, it hit us like a ton of bricks,” one lawmaker said.

Need to Know: 

  • The Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion in a 6-3 decision. 
  • Abortion is still legal in Michigan, with a 1931 law banning it on temporary hold. 
  • Conservative Republicans are celebrating this decision as a protection of life. 

The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was released Friday, eliminating federal protections for abortions and allowing states to enact their own restrictions on reproductive care. And immediately, both sides of the aisle came out to condemn––or support––the decision. 

Here’s what politicians and candidates are saying: 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer:

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a press conference. (AP File)

“Today is a sad day for America as an unelected group of conservative judges act squarely against the will of the people and medical expertise. We can all sense the despair that tens of millions of Americans—our neighbors, family members and friends—are feeling right now. However we personally feel about abortion, health—not politics—should drive important medical decisions.

“The 1931 law would punish women and strip away their right to make decisions about their own bodies,” Whitmer said. “I am deeply disappointed that Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders have been in court defending this draconian ban, to the detriment of women and families. Some legislators have gone a step further, proposing a 10-year prison sentence for abortion providers and a 20-year sentence for anyone manufacturing, selling or distributing birth control medication.”  

Attorney General Dana Nessel:

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (AP Photo/Paul Sancya File)

“The overturning of Roe is not just the loss of a right; it is the erosion of our status as equal citizens under the law. As a nation, we trust in our highest court to hold sacred their duty, free from political whim. Today’s decision sets a dangerous precedent in reversing 50 years’ of settled law; creating extraordinary upheaval in the American legal system; and putting at risk other individual rights that generations of Americans fought to secure and preserve.  

“Now we must do what our courts have failed to do: we must act to ensure that women are not permanently relegated to second-class citizens in this country. I will continue to fight for a women’s right to choose with the full weight of my office. Michigan residents must continue to fight for reproductive rights at the ballot box in November.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson:

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya File)

“Today’s decision is a devastating blow to freedom. It does not align with the will of the people. It was not achieved through democratic means. It does not reflect who we are as Americans. The fight for a country that reflects and protects the voice of all Americans must continue.”

State Rep. Julie M. Rogers (D-Kalamazoo):

“Taking away a person’s right to bodily autonomy is a violation of our human rights.” 

State Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Meridian Township):

“For the love of God Michigan, go request your absentee primary ballot and vote Democratic.”

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak):

“We knew Roe would be overturned. But it’s no less horrifying.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI):

“This Supreme Court decision will literally put women’s lives at risk. Twenty-six states are poised to move quickly to ban abortion—including 13 states with laws that can go into effect right now. It is hard to look past the anger that I and so many women across the country feel right now. From the President to the Congress to our local State Legislatures, elections matter now more than ever.”

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI):

“Today’s news is a reminder of what’s at stake this year. I’m retelling my family’s story because the right for patients to make private medical decisions with their health care provider—and without political interference—is more at risk than ever.”

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly):

“I got the news today that Roe v. Wade had been overturned while I was in the middle of a staff meeting. Even though we knew it was coming, it hit us like a ton of bricks.”

The GOP Response

Republican politicians and candidates in Michigan offered a much different perspective.

Matthew DePerno is running for the Michigan Republican party’s nomination for state attorney general (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Republican Attorney General candidate Matt DePerno:

“I am thrilled to read the opinion of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. We finally have a law that upholds the lives of all Americans––born and unborn.” 

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake):

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) speaks to reporters inside the Senate in 2019. (AP Photo/David Eggert File)

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for those, like Sue and I, who believe in the precious miracle of life. It also affirms the importance of federalism and states’ rights.

“At this critical moment, every American—especially those in elected office—has an important decision to make. We can seek common ground, or we can contribute to the widening divisions between our people.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Rinke

Republican gubernatorial candidate Garett Soldano:

“All Lives Matter.”

State Rep. John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs):

“This Supreme Court decision is great news for life. The people in each state may better protect life, from conception onward. Now, the real work of the pro-life movement is just beginning. We must continue discussing with fellow citizens and elected officials the need to protect babies in the womb and end abortion. We must continue encouraging and supporting mothers in uncertain, even desperate, situations. We must pray for courage to do what is right in defense of life, wisdom to persuade, compassion to help, and strength to persevere.”

What Do Michiganders Think? 

In a January 2022 WDIV/Detroit News poll, 67% of Michiganders supported Roe, and 66% supported repealing Michigan’s 1931 trigger ban on abortion. More than 77% believed abortion should be a woman’s decision. In an April Courier Newsroom/Data for Progress poll, only 28% of respondents said the government should be able to make decisions on reproductive rights.

In a 2021 Washington Post-ABC poll, 75% of respondents said decisions on abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor—including 95% of Democrats, 81% of Independents, and 53% of Republicans. The poll also found that support for overturning Roe “peaks among White evangelical Protestants, 58% of whom say the court should overturn the precedent.”

The report further noted that 62% of Catholics support Roe.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans want abortion to remain legal. This unprecedented attack on our fundamental rights will be met with unprecedented organizing, advocacy and resistance,” said Ashlea Phenicie, interim director of communications at Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

Read more about the impact of the decision in Michigan here

Authors

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

  • Hope O'Dell
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