Planning ahead for the eventual demise of Roe, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) filed a lawsuit earlier this year against 13 county prosecutors in her state to preemptively challenge the 1930s-era abortion ban on the books in Michigan. Her logic was simple — once Roe was ultimately overturned the century-old law would immediately go into effect, giving those 13 county prosecutors — who oversee the 13 counties in the state that house abortion clinics — the authority to charge people who violate the old-school ban.
Whitmer also asked the state Supreme Court to strike down the outdated law — which is super extreme, outlawing performing an abortion in all cases except when the pregnant person’s life is in danger — and has taken steps to codify abortion rights into Michigan’s state constitution.
When Whitmer announced her lawsuit, more than half of those prosecutors targeted with the legal challenge signed a statement saying they supported Whitmer’s lawsuit and would not enforce the abortion law if and when it went into effect.
Now that Roe is overturned and there are few legal avenues at the moment for protecting abortion access at the state level, especially in red states, prosecutors, attorneys general and district attorneys across the nation are following those Michigan prosecutors lead.
Since Roe’s overturning on Friday, dozens of local prosecutors around the U.S. have issued statements vowing not to prosecute people who seek abortions, or perform them or help people get them. Additionally on Friday, 88 elected prosecutors signed a statement promising not to prosecute abortion cases. The group consisted mostly of attorneys general and district attorney from blue and red states, including some from Georgia and Texas, which have some of the most strict bans on the books.
Those who signed onto the statement said that charging people for abortion care would be a “mockery of justice.”
“Not all of us agree on a personal or moral level on the issue of abortion,” they wrote. “But we stand together in our firm belief that prosecutors have a responsibility to refrain from using limited criminal legal system resources to criminalize personal medical decisions.”
The banding together is significant, especially as we head into the Midterms and fears swell about what Republicans might do with their power if they retake Congress. Some Republicans are mulling a federal abortion ban now that Roe is out of the way.
While it should not have to be this way, if a national ban were to happen, the values and politics of local officials will take on new life, as states and municipalities will likely move to establish safe havens for abortion access — think: the role that sanctuary cities played in protecting undocumented immigrants.
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
New from ProPublica: How Boise State University Is Bowing to a Conservative Crusade
In case you missed it this morning: Tina Peters Loses GOP Primary For Colorado Secretary Of State
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
What We Are Reading
68% of US Catholics say Roe should be left alone, poll says — National Catholic Reporter
When Brazil Banned Abortion Pills, Women Turned to Drug Traffickers — Stephanie Nolen
Georgia Tech hotel hosting conference by election deniers — Chris Joyner