The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitemer that aired on Sunday, June 26, 2022, “Face the Nation.”
Margaret Brennan: The state has found a restricted abortion ban that preceded Rowe v. Wade in Michigan. Its democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, joined us from Lansing this morning. Good morning, Governor.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer: Good morning, Margaret.
Margaret Brennan: So abortion is still temporarily available in your state because of a court order in 1931 law that was already in your books that would make it illegal without exception for rape or incest. I know there is confusion in your state. What is the status of your appeal in the Supreme Court of the state?
GOV. Whitmer: Well, that’s why I filed my case a few months ago, a lot of people questioned whether it was timely or even necessary. And it has become very clear that both times are relative, not only that, it is essential and absolutely necessary. There is a lot of confusion about what this means for IVF, with doctors and some hospitals trying to explain it to prosecutors across the board. And so our Supreme Court needs to take action. I urge them to recognize the fundamental right to equal protection of due process and privacy, and the right to physical autonomy and reproductive health care. And the time has come to weigh and recognize this right under the constitution of our state.
Margaret Brennan: So what happens if you lose?
GOV. Whitmer: Well, we’ve got it – we’re going into it, we’re pulling all the stops. This is the moment of fighting like hell. So our partners filed this next issue, they got the order on appeal, so it’s uncertain. And, there is an attempt to collect signatures and amend our constitution. So we, the Michigan women, and the Ohio women and Indiana women who come to Michigan for their health care, are using every tool we can to fight for reproductive rights.
Margaret Brennan: So in every state, now the state capitals are going to make these decisions. So I want to go special. Row vs. Wade, up to previously guaranteed abortion viability, approximately 24 weeks of gestation. If the court overturns it – you are fighting this ban, and you have to make new laws here. Is there an agreement – is it possible here? Can you live in anything less than 20 weeks, 15 weeks, crying?
GOV. Whitmer: What I’m trying to fight for is the status quo in Michigan and it has reasonable restrictions. The current legislature I have has no common ground, which is sad. They have already introduced legislation to criminalize and imprison nurses and doctors. They have all supported the 1931 law. There are all Republicans for governor. They want abortion to be a crime, with no exceptions to rape or adultery. This is the kind of legislature I am working on. That’s the kind of match I’m going to have this fall. And that’s why this is such a scary moment for a Michigan woman and our family.
Margaret Brennan: So according to CBS Polling, we just did. Many Americans feel that abortion should be legal within the first trimester. So 12 weeks of pregnancy, approximately, a third say it should be legal even later. If you can’t talk to your state legislature, at least you know, you can put it on the ballot. Is it up to the people to decide? How do you proceed
GOV. Whitmer: Yes, that’s why 70% of the people in our state support women being able to make that choice on their own. Whether or not they personally support it, whether they make it or not. At the age of 50, or like many women of my generation, I feared that my daughters would have less rights than the rest of my life. But I keep in mind the fact that the majority of the people in this state support the right of women to choose. I was raised by a pro-choice Republican father, and there are pro-choice Republicans and independents. We need them to join this fight.
Margaret Brennan: Okay, but if you make it public there, they’ll have to pick a specific statement here. Is anything less possible than crying? Is a deal possible?
GOV. Whitmer: I think a deal is possible. We’ve already seen Michigan impose some restrictions on abortion, we have a waiting period, it’s out of feasibility, you know, not accessible unless it’s for the mother’s life हो it’s for the woman, but it is. A moment where we see how extreme the Michigan GOP has become. This is the radical agenda to deprive women of their most important economic decision in their lifetime, when and whether to have children.
Margaret Brennan: But I mean, how much do you think the Democratic Party or the Democratic leadership has failed here? It was the telegraph for a long time. Should the federal government do more now?
GOV. Whitmer: Well, I’ve been urging Democratic leaders for months to use every tool at their disposal to fight to protect women’s reproductive autonomy and our right to health care decisions. I’ve used each tool in my toolbox, we all have different sets, it’s now pushed to the states. And that’s why I’m fighting so hard to defend this right in Michigan.
Margaret Brennan: But you are not looking for more from the federal government at the moment?
GOV. Whitmer: As I said, I’m urging each and every pro-choice leader to use every tool in their toolbox. So I am optimistic and believe that the Biden administration is going to do that. I can tell you what I’m doing here on Michigan land.
Margaret Brennan: I want to ask you about this homeland security warning that domestic violent extremists can escalate violence. In a bulletin obtained by CBS, it specifically mentioned an incident in Michigan, related to the abortion rights group. How concerned are you about violence? What are you looking at on the ground?
GOV. Whitmer: I’m worried about a lot of things happening in the United States right now. And clearly, these are the last two decisions that came out of the United States Supreme Court – too dangerous for America, too many guns, too few rights, too few healthcare, it’s too scary. And as a lawyer, it hurts me to say that I am losing faith that these important institutions, which are considered above politics today, are now being corrupted. And that’s what we’re seeing from our United States Supreme Court. And I am very concerned about our long-term prosperity, our homeland security and our security.
Margaret Brennan: But, this warning to federal government officials about Fed-threats, including judges, are you concerned about the active threats in Michigan?
GOV. WHITMER: Of course, I am. I – Margaret, I’m a former president who has often been the recipient of a lot of ugliness and hatred. This is a really scary moment. And with the proliferation of ugly rhetoric, the dreaded proliferation of guns and less and less sanctions in America. I think any parent who sends their child to school, any politician or policy maker who makes tough decisions, we should now be very scared at a whole new level.
Margaret Brennan: And I believe you can’t establish a red flag law at this point despite federal incentives for your state?
GOV. WHITEMER: I’m still pushing, but considering the make-up of the legislature I have to work on, it’s even harder for them to defend themselves by banning guns in the state capital. So here it is अंश it’s part of this germinated legislature of this kind of radical Republican Party in Michigan.
Margaret Brennan: Governor Whitmer, we will see what happens in your state. Thank you. The face of the nation. We’ll be back in a minute so stay tuned.