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Whitmer, Becerra push IVF, abortion rights

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a reproductive rights roundtable at a community center in Farmington Hills.
Rick Pluta
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Governor Gretchen Whitmer at a reproductive rights roundtable at a community center in Farmington Hills.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer was joined by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to warn that the stakes in the November elections include reproductive rights adopted two years ago by voters.

Whitmer and Becerra were joined by local officials and reproductive rights advocates at a Thursday event at a Farmington Hills community center.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has become a national figure in the abortion debate since Michigan added a reproductive rights amendment to the state constitution in the same 2022 election where she coasted into a second term. Democrats also won full control of the Legislature and used their majorities to repeal many abortion restrictions on the lawbooks.

Whitmer said all of that is at risk if President Joe Biden loses his reelection bid to former President Donald Trump.

“If there was a President who says they’re going to sign an abortion ban and one gets to their desk, everything we’ve done in Michigan goes away,” she said. “That’s real.”

Whitmer was joined at the event by Biden administration Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. He said Michigan’s lifting of abortion restrictions is an example to be followed, but the nation should not have a patchwork of abortion rights that vary from state to state.

“There’s no reason why any Americans should lose rights at night and go to another state in the day and have those rights,” he said. “This should not be about a tale of two cities. This is one America.”

While Becerra’s Michigan swing was an official visit and not a campaign event, the Biden reelection effort has been heavily working the state where polls show the president’s campaign is struggling. The Trump campaign announced Thursday the former president will visit west Michigan next week.

Tuesday’s event focused largely on in vitro fertilization and the necessity of the availability of abortion in cases of high-risk pregnancies. Whitmer is getting ready to sign legislation soon to repeal Michigan’s long-standing ban on paid surrogacy contracts.

Abortion rights groups are pressing for repealing the state’s parental rights abortion law, but Whitmer said she is more focused on protecting recent gains.

When asked, Whitmer said she made repealing the law that requires minors to get the consent of a parent or a bypass order from a judge to get an abortion an early priority, but it was never taken up by the Legislature.

“It didn’t all make it to my desk,” she said. “I don’t believe that we’re going to see any more strides on that front.”

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Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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