Why Gretchen Whitmer's Bid for Governor Should Be Important to Every Woman

It all comes down to a law enacted in 1931.

Getty Images

In one of the most fierce ideological battles of the November midterm elections, in the Michigan gubernatorial (a.k.a. governor's) race. You'd expect a Schuette victory to be bad for women in the state—just look at his , not to mention his complete —but a 1931 law on the books in Michigan could make things much, much worse for the state if the Trump-approved Schuette beat out the Obama-endorsed Whitmer, who also counts and among her endorsees.

It all comes down to an anti-choice law in Michigan enacted well before Roe v. Wade. The states clearly that any attempt to cause an abortion, unless the mother's life is in danger, is a felony. It's known as a pre-Roe ban, which many states once had but have . Michigan, along with eight other states, did not. And it didn't need to, thanks to Roe v. Wade—but if the Supreme Court ruling were ever repealed (more on that in a minute), this would be a huge problem. If Roe v. Wade were repealed, Michigan and its eight counterparts could immediately see abortion become a criminal offense—a felony, in fact.

That's a lot of "what if"s, I know. But, in truth, it's not all that unlikely that Roe v. Wade could be overturned now that Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed as SCOTUS' newest judge. Even prior to those triggering, painful sexual assault allegation hearings, pro-choice activists were sounding the alarm about Kavanaugh, whose record indicates he would if such a challenge were brought to the nation's highest court. (And you better believe that a whole bunch of anti-choice groups are Indeed, some pundits the moment that Anthony Kennedy set free his SCOTUS seat.

Which brings me to Whitmer. An openly pro-choice candidate for governor, she went so far as to release a plan in July to in the state if elected. (Schuette's team, on the other hand, made clear to that "as governor he would enforce the laws on the books, just as he does now as attorney general"—in other words, the 1931 law). While nothing would fix the damage done to the country if Roe were overturned, Whitmer as governor would at least be able to negate the damage by getting the 1931 law repealed.

As Whitmer noted in a statement to NARAL after being endorsed by the nonprofit group October: "The stakes in this election couldn’t be higher for Michigan women and families." It's politics-speak, yes, but Whitmer isn't wrong.

Morgan McMullen

From explainers to essays, cheat sheets to candidate analysis, we're breaking down exactly what you need to know about this year's midterms. Visit Carte-Mere's Midterms Guide for more.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below