By Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II
The dangerous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the constitutional right to abortion in the United States is an attack on women and families in communities across Michigan. A super majority of Michiganders agree that no matter how we personally feel about abortion, health—not politics—should guide important medical decision. But Michigan’s got an extreme abortion ban from 1931 on the books, and if it goes into effect, 2.2 million women will lose access to legal abortion. Thankfully, because of a ruling by a Michigan court temporarily blocking the 1931 ban, abortion remains legal in Michigan. But it is hanging by a thread: if the law goes into effect, here are just a few of the wide-ranging consequences it will have on Michiganders:
First, Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban will devastate our ability to attract and retain the talent we need to grow Michigan’s economies and communities. Starting a family is one of the biggest economic decisions anyone can make, and the United States Department of Agriculture estimated in 2015 that raising a child costs $233,610. Forcing a person to continue a pregnancy against their will push people into poverty, trap people in poverty for generations, drive parents out of the workforce, and make it harder for families to make ends meet. This dangerous abortion ban will send a message to potential employers and employees – the young, talented people Michigan needs to build the future – that they will have not have personal bodily autonomy here. We are better than that.
Second, ending access to legal abortion in Michigan will result in dire consequences for impoverished, rural, and otherwise underserved communities where this access is critical. Bans on abortion disproportionately impact women of color and women in low-income communities, who already face added barriers to health care services. Too many people cannot afford care or cannot travel to receive it. When we deny people the ability to make their own decisions about their pregnancies or lives, we reduce them to vessels rather than people. This matters to all of us who claim to care about human rights.
Finally, Michigan’s extreme abortion ban will put people in danger. Receiving reproductive health care is a matter of life and death for patients. Inserting politicians into doctor-patient relationships will devastate health outcomes and create overwhelming obstacles for women seeking medical treatment for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. And for families that value the freedom to grow on their own terms, it negates that freedom in ways that we simply cannot accept. We must work together to protect the health of our communities and keep access to abortion care legal.
Governor Whitmer and I will use every tool in our toolbox to protect reproductive healthcare in Michigan. That is why we took strong actions to defend abortion access before the Dobbs case was decided. We filed a lawsuit in April that asks the Michigan Supreme Court to affirm and assert the right to an abortion. We issued an executive directive ordering state departments and agencies to identify ways to strengthen protection for reproductive healthcare. If you have not yet taken action – whether that is letting people know that is right now still legal and available in Michigan, registering to vote, contacting your elected officials and calling on them to pass laws that protect abortion access, or organizing your friends or family – the time to get engaged is now. Governor Whitmer and I will keep fighting – for our rights, our families, and future generations of Michiganders.
Garlin Gilchrist II is the Lieutenant Governor of Michigan.