A Michigan judge blocked county prosecutors from enforcing an abortion law that has been on the books for almost a century which doesn’t include rape or incest exceptions and would hold anyone carrying out the procedure legally accountable.
(Video Credit: Click On Detroit | Local 4 | WDIV)
On Friday, Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham announced his decision after the state Court of Appeals said earlier in August that county prosecutors were not covered by a May order and could enforce the prohibition following the fall of Roe v. Wade.
On Aug. 1, a state Court of Appeals panel affirmed that county prosecutors were allowed to enforce the ban because they were not under the authority of the state attorney general.
“The harm to the body of women and people capable of pregnancy in not issuing the injunction could not be more real, clear, present, and dangerous to the court,” Cunningham stated.
The judge charged that the 1931 abortion ban doesn’t pass constitutional muster in the state because weaponizing criminal law against abortion providers goes against due process.
Breaking: A Michigan judge rules that the state's 1931 pre-Roe ban cannot be enforced, granting Gov. Whitmer's request for preliminary injunction. Abortion remains legal in Michigan.
— Caroline Kitchener (@CAKitchener) August 19, 2022
“A person carrying a child has the right to bodily autonomy and integrity as well as a safe doctor-patient relationship free from government interference, as they have been able to do so for nearly 50 years,” the judge stated, using the “bodily integrity” phrase used in Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher’s May preliminary injunction in a Planned Parenthood lawsuit, according to The Detroit News.
“This court finds it is overwhelmingly in the public’s best interest to let the people of the great state of Michigan decide this matter at the ballot box,” he added.
Cunningham found all three of the state’s witnesses “extremely credible” while he dismissed out-of-hand testimony from the defense witnesses as “unhelpful and biased.”
“This is the ultimate example of maintaining the status quo,” Cunningham proclaimed concerning the ruling. “There is precisely zero harm to the defendants by granting a preliminary injunction.”
BREAKING: Michigan court rules that the state's 1931 abortion ban (w no exemptions for rape/incest) will *remain blocked* as multiple legal challenges play out. The judge said he was loath to upend "nearly 50 years & multiple generations" of "reproductive autonomy" in the state.
— Alice Miranda Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) August 19, 2022
The ruling comes after Planned Parenthood of Michigan and a doctor in the state filed a suit in May against the abortion ban. Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) joined the plaintiffs in asserting the ban is unconstitutional.
Whitmer was ecstatic over the judge’s ruling while noting her team would “remain vigilant in protecting reproductive freedom.”
“I am grateful for this ruling that will protect women and ensure nurses and doctors can keep caring for their patients without fear of prosecution,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “… The lack of legal clarity about abortion in Michigan has already caused far too much confusion for women who deserve certainty about their healthcare, and hardworking medical providers who should be able to do their jobs without worrying about being thrown behind bars.”
I’d like to acknowledge our prosecutors who fought so hard to make today’s ruling happen, and who’ve been standing with us as we defend abortion rights. To Karen McDonald, Carol Siemon, Eli Savit, David Leyton, Kym Worthy, Jeffrey Getting, and Matthew Wiese: thank you.
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) August 19, 2022
The judge’s decision effectively overturns the Aug. 1 victory for anti-abortion groups and strips prosecutors of the authority to enforce the abortion ban.
David Kallman, who is an attorney representing two Republican county prosecutors, asserted that an appeal is planned.
“The judge ignored all of the clear legal errors and problems in this case, it appears to me, simply because the issue is abortion,” Kallman told the Associated Press following the ruling.
“It’s a sad day for rule of law in Michigan,” he said. “There is no constitutional right to abortion under Michigan law right now. The judge ignored that.”
Judge Cunningham had previously filed a restraining order against county prosecutors just hours following the Aug. 1 appeals court decision and a request from attorneys representing Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmer has pushed for an order to keep county prosecutors from being allowed to enforce the law. For now, it appears she has gotten her way.
Although country prosecutors will appeal the ruling, Michigan voters will decide whether abortion will be legalized or not when they cast their ballots on a constitutional amendment that would solidify abortion rights in the state, according to Fox News.
Next up: Michigan voters. They’ll likely get to vote on whether abortion is constitutionally protected in their state, via a ballot initiative in November.
— Caroline Kitchener (@CAKitchener) August 19, 2022
An initiative to put the measure on the ballot this November received over 753,000 signatures in July.
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