The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that aired Sunday, June 26, 2022, on "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the state's finding a restrictive abortion ban that predates Roe vs. Wade is Michigan. Its Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer joins us this morning from Lansing. Good morning, Governor.
MICHIGAN GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER: Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So in your state abortion is still temporarily available due to a court injunction on a 1931 law that was already on your books that would outlaw it with no exceptions for rape or incest. I know there's confusion in your state. What exactly is the status of your appeal to the state Supreme Court?
GOV. WHITMER: Well, this is precisely why I filed my lawsuit a few months ago, a lot of people questioned whether or not it was timely or even necessary. And it's become very clear that both it is timely, not only that, it is urgent and absolutely necessary. There is a lot of confusion about what this means for IVF, for practitioners and some hospitals are interpreting it trying to understand with prosecutors all over the board. And that's why our Supreme Court needs to act. I've teed up this lawsuit asking them to recognize a fundamental due process and equal protection right to privacy, and right to bodily autonomy and reproductive health care. And it is time for them to weigh in and recognize this right under our state constitution.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So what happens if you lose?
GOV. WHITMER: Well, we've got- we're going at it, we're pulling out all the stops. This is a fight like hell moment. So our partners filed this other lawsuit, they got the injunction that is on appeal, so it's precarious. And there's an effort to collect signatures and amend our constitution. So we are taking, using every tool we have to fight for reproductive rights for Michigan women, and Ohio women and Indiana women who come to Michigan for their health care.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So in every state, now state capitals are going to make these decisions. So I want to get to the specifics. Roe vs. Wade, previously guaranteed abortion up to viability, roughly 24 weeks of pregnancy. If the courts strike down this- this ban you are fighting, and you have to craft a new law here. Is there compromise that is- is possible here? Can you settle on 20 weeks, 15 weeks, anything less than roe?
GOV. WHITMER: What I'm trying to fight for is the status quo in Michigan and there are reasonable restrictions on that. With the current legislature that I have, there is no common ground, which is the sad thing. They've already introduced legislation to criminalize and throw nurses and doctors in jail. They've all endorsed the 1931 law. Has- has all of the Republican people running for governor. They want abortion to be a felony, no exceptions for rape or incest. That's the kind of legislature that I'm working with. That's the kind of matchup I'm going to have this fall. And that's why this is such a scary moment for Michigan women and our families.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So according to the CBS polling, most recent we did. Most Americans feel abortion should be legal within the first trimester. So 12 weeks of pregnancy, roughly, a third say it should be legal after that as well. If you're saying you can't talk this out with your state legislature, can you at least you know, put it on the ballot? Did- does the public get to decide here? How do you move forward?
GOV. WHITMER: Yeah, so 70% of the people in our state do support a woman being able to make that choice herself. Whether that's a choice that they individually would support or not, would make or not. I am horrified, as are so many women who are 50-years-old, or in my generation, that the thought that my daughters will have fewer rights than I've had virtually my whole life. But I take heart in the fact that the vast majority of people in this state support a woman having that right to choose. I was raised by a pro-choice Republican father, and there are pro-choice Republicans and independents out there. We need them to join this fight.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, but then if you put it out there to the public, they've got to pick and make a specific statement here. Is anything less than roe possible? Is compromise possible?
GOV. WHITMER: I think compromise is possible. We've already seen Michigan enact some some re- some restrictions on abortion, we have a waiting period, there's beyond viability, you know, there- is not accessible unless it's for the life of the mother but- the woman, but this is a moment where we are seeing how extreme the Michigan GOP has gotten. This- this radical agenda to deprive women of the ability to make their own most important economic decision they'll make in their lifetime, when and whether or not to have a child.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But I mean, how much do you think that the Democratic Party or Democratic leadership failed here? This was telegraphed for so long. Should the federal government now do more?
GOV. WHITMER: Well, I've been urging for months, Democratic leaders to use every tool of their disposal to fight to protect women's reproductive autonomy and right to make our health care decisions. I've used every tool in my toolbox, we all have different sets, this has now been pushed down to the states. And that's why I'm fighting so hard to- to protect this right in Michigan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you aren't looking for more from the federal government at this time?
GOV. WHITMER: As I said, I am urging every, every pro-choice leader to use every tool in their toolbox. So I'm hopeful and believe that the Biden administration is going to do that. I can just tell you what I am doing here on the ground in Michigan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about this homeland security warning that domestic violent extremists may intensify violence. In the bulletin that CBS obtained, it specifically mentioned an incident in Michigan, related to a pro abortion rights group. How concerned are you about violence? What are you seeing on the ground?
GOV. WHITMER: I am concerned about a lot of things happening in the United States right now. And frankly, the last couple of decisions that came out of this United States Supreme Court are- make America a lot more dangerous, more guns, fewer rights, less health care, it is scary. And as a lawyer it- it crushes me to say that even I am losing faith that these important institutions that are supposed to be above the politics of the day, are now being corrupted. And that's what we're seeing out of our United States Supreme Court. And I am very concerned about our long term prosperity, our homeland security and our safety.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, this warning about fed- threats to federal state government officials, including judges, are you concerned about active threats in Michigan?
GOV. WHITMER: Of course, I am. I- Margaret, I have been the recipient of so much ugliness and hate often stoked by the former president. This is a really scary moment. And with the proliferation of the ugly rhetoric, the scary proliferation of guns in America and fewer and fewer restrictions. I think that any parent who sends their child to school, any politician or policy maker who makes a hard decision, we now have to be much more fearful on a whole new level.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And I'm assuming you can't get your state to establish a Red Flag Law at this point, despite the federal incentive?
GOV. WHITMER: I'm still pushing but when- considering the makeup of the legislature that I have to work with, it's been very hard to even get them to protect themselves by- by forbidding guns in the state capitol. So it is- that's a part of this gerrymandered legislature in this kind of radicalized Republican Party in Michigan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor Whitmer, we will be watching what happens next in your state. Thank you. Face nation. We'll be back in a minute so stay with us.
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