Michigan Gov. Whitmer defends abortions during pandemic as part of 'life-sustaining' health care

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Michigan won't ban abortions during the coronavirus outbreak as other states have done, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday, insisting the procedures were part of maintaining "life-sustaining" health care.

“We stopped elective surgeries here in Michigan, and some people have tried to say that that type of a procedure is considered the same, and that’s ridiculous,” Whitmer, a Democrat, told former Barack Obama political strategist David Alexrod on his podcast when he asked about other states that have sought bans amid the outbreak.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks in Lansing, Mich., April 13, 2020. (Associated Press)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks in Lansing, Mich., April 13, 2020. (Associated Press)

“A woman’s health care, her whole future, her ability to decide if and when she starts a family is not an election, it is a fundamental to her life," she added. “It is life-sustaining, and it’s something that government should not be getting in the middle of.”

"A woman’s health care ... her ability to decide if and when she starts a family is not an election, it is a fundamental to her life. It is life-sustaining, and it’s something that government should not be getting in the middle of.”

— Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Axelrod asked if she thought the pandemic created a “backdoor” way for some states to permanently ban abortion or if the temporary bans elsewhere were a legitimate policy decision to slow the spread of the virus.

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“My gut is it’s the former," she said. "I’m not in Texas, I don’t know all the individuals involved but I do think there is a concerted effort to use every opportunity to take away women’s ability to make our own health care decisions."

Whitmer has been hit with protests and some lawsuits over her stay-at-home order, which some have said is too restrictive. Protesters swarmed Michigan's capital city, Lansing, on Wednesday to protest the policy.

States that have moved to restrict abortion during the crisis include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The bans are being challenged in court, according to Time magazine.

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Texas barred medical abortions – which involves taking pills -- because of the shortage of personal protective equipment and to keep hospital beds open during the outbreak.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this week ruled to allow medical abortions to continue in the state.

Abortion bans during the crisis could make getting one after the outbreak more difficult if providers are financially destabilized, Time reported.