LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan judge on Friday blocked county prosecutors from enforcing the state’s 1931 abortion ban for the foreseeable future after two days of testimony from abortion experts, service providers and the Chief Medical Officer.
The decision comes after the state Court of Appeals said earlier this month that county prosecutors were not covered by a May order and could enforce the ban after the fall of Roe c. Wade by the United States Supreme Court.
“The harm done to the bodies of women and those capable of pregnancy by not issuing the injunction could not be more real, clear, present and dangerous to the court,” Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham said. during its decision on Friday.
David Kallman, an attorney representing two Republican county prosecutors, said an appeal is planned.
“The judge ignored all the obvious legal errors and issues in this case, it seems to me, simply because the issue is abortion,” Kallman told The Associated Press after the hearing.
Cunningham had filed a restraining order against county prosecutors hours after the August 1 appeals court ruling and following a request from lawyers representing Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
While a majority of prosecutors in counties where there are abortion clinics said they would not enforce the ban, Republican prosecutors in Kent, Jackson and Macomb counties said they should be able to apply the law of 1931.
Cunningham listened to arguments Wednesday and Thursday in Pontiac before granting the preliminary injunction, which is expected to keep abortion legal statewide until the Michigan Supreme Court or voters can decide in the fall .
In his ruling, Cunningham found the state’s three witnesses “extremely credible” while dismissing the testimony of defense witnesses as “unnecessary and biased.”
Michigan’s 1931 law, which was triggered after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, prohibits abortion in all cases except the life of the mother. The dormant ban was retroactively blocked from coming into force in May when Judge Elizabeth Gleicher issued a preliminary injunction.
The state Court of Appeals later said the preliminary injunction only applied to the attorney general’s office, meaning the vendors could be charged with a felony by some county prosecutors.
While Kallman said during oral argument Thursday that granting a preliminary injunction is not the way the laws should be changed, attorneys representing Whitmer argued that allowing county prosecutors to decide whether to apply or no, the 1931 ban would be confusing.
“I am relieved that everyone in this state knows that no matter what county you live in now, you are not as a supplier and you will not be sued,” the Oakland County Prosecutor said. , Karen McDonald, following the ruling.
A ballot initiative to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution garnered 753,759 signatures in July and is expected to ultimately decide the status of abortion access in Michigan. Amendment awaits final approval for the November ballot by the Board of State Solicitors.
“This court believes it is extremely in the public interest to let the people of the great state of Michigan decide this issue at the ballot box,” Cunningham said Friday.
Michigan’s abortion status is set to have a big impact on the battleground state’s November general election, where Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, also a Democrat, returned abortion rights a centerpiece of their re-election campaigns.
“Absent this preliminary injunction, physicians face a very real threat of litigation depending on where they practice,” Nessel said in a statement following Friday’s ruling.
Joey Cappelletti is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.