Lawsuit Challenges Use of Mich. Gov’s COVID-19 Order to Criminalize Pro-Life Outreach Outside Abortion Facilities

LANSING, Mich. (American Freedom Law Center) Late last night, the American Freedom Law Center, a national public interest law firm, filed a civil rights lawsuit against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the City of Detroit, challenging the constitutionality of the governor’s Executive Order 2020-21 (“Shelter in Place” order) as applied to criminalize the free speech activity of peaceful, pro-life protesters.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three pro-lifers, Andrew Belanger, Justin Phillips, and Cal Zastrow. The lawsuit also names the City of Detroit as a defendant.

On March 24, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued the executive order in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While most businesses were forced to shutdown as a result, the governor has refused to order abortion centers in Michigan to close even though abortion is an elective procedure, it is never necessary to protect the life of a mother, and it results in the death of an unborn child, which is contrary to the stated goal of the executive order “to sustain or protect life.”

Because abortion centers remain open in Michigan during this current pandemic, the pro-life plaintiffs are compelled by their consciences to be witnesses for life by engaging in peaceful, free speech activities on the public sidewalks outside of abortion centers located throughout the state.

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