Michigan’s Local Prosecutors Can Enforce 1931 Abortion Ban, Court Rules

Michigan’s local prosecutors can now enforce the state’s 1931 abortion ban, a court ruled Monday.

The dormant law from before Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, was temporarily blocked in May. The law bans all abortions except for when the mother’s life is at risk.

Two county prosecutors responded by suing to allow the law to go into effect.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the preliminary injunction blocking the law “does not apply to county prosecutors,” meaning they can enforce the abortion ban effective August 22. State-level officials are still not permitted to enforce the ban. Meanwhile, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) is requesting a ruling, from the state supreme court, that would declare abortion access as constitutionally protected.

The original case against the abortion ban was brought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan, which is seeking to have a court declare the 91-year-old abortion ban unconstitutional — a law pro-lifers are defending.

“We’re ecstatic. It’s wonderful. That’s exactly what we’ve been saying all along,” said attorney David Kallman of the conservative Great Lakes Justice Center, which is representing Michigan prosecutors who challenged the injunction.

Planned Parenthood of Michigan released a statement saying it would continue performing abortions.

“I want to make one thing abundantly clear: Abortion is still safe and legal in Michigan today,” said Paula Thornton Greear, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

“We’re committed to protecting abortion access in Michigan. We believe that the Court of Appeals order is wrong,” she said.

While some prosecutors evidently wanted the abortion ban to go into effect, others from several counties across Michigan say they will not enforce the ban, even though they are now permitted to do so.

“As Michigan’s elected prosecutors, we are entrusted with the health and safety of the people we serve. We believe that duty must come before all else. For that reason, we are reassuring our communities that we support a woman’s right to choose and every person’s right to reproductive freedom,” said prosecutors from the Michigan counties of Oakland, Ingham, Washtenaw, Genesee, Wayne, Marquette and Kamalazoo.

On Monday evening, Whitmer slammed the court’s ruling and said she has filed a temporary restraining order against its enforcement.

“Today’s dangerous decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals clears a path for county prosecutors to use Michigan’s extreme 1931 abortion ban to prosecute doctors and nurses and jail them for doing their jobs,” Whitmer said.

“We cannot risk further confusion for women, health care providers, and all Michiganders. As today’s unexpected action proves, the overturn of Roe v Wade in June has left reproductive freedom hanging by a thread in Michigan,” the governor added.

The Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade on June 24, essentially turning the issue of abortion over to individual states to decide how permissive or stringent they want to be on the issue.

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