News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

After another series of legal twists and turns, where do abortion rights stand in Michigan?

Gayatri Malhotra | Unsplash

Supporters of abortion rights are rejoicing — at least for now — after Michigan's legal battle over the medical procedure took another series of twists and turns Monday.

A ruling late Monday from Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Cunningham temporarily blocks county prosecutors from enforcing a long-dormant 1931 state law that bans abortions except those done to save a pregnant person's life.

Cunningham issued that temporary restraining order in response to a request from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat. It names 13 county prosecutors who have abortion providers in their jurisdictions.

Whitmer was responding to a ruling issued earlier Monday by Michigan's Court of Appeals, which held that a previous injunction issued by a Court of Claims judgedelaying enforcement of the 1931 ban only barred prosecutions by state officials like Michigan's Attorney General, but did not bar enforcement by county prosecutors.

A hearing related to Cunningham's restraining order is set for Wednesday.

"I am grateful for this relief — however temporary — because it will help ensure that Michigan's doctors, nurses, and health care systems can continue caring for their patients," Whitmer said in a statement.

Even before Cunningham's order, Planned Parenthood of Michigan CEO Paula Thompson Greear argued that local prosecutors would still be barred from charging abortion providers for at least 21 days — the time period for the Court of Appeals ruling to go into effect.

She said Planned Parenthood is continuing to provide abortions across Michigan.

"We're committed to protecting abortion access in Michigan," she said. "Abortion is still safe and legal in Michigan."

Michigan's Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel has previously pledged not to enforce Michigan's 1931 abortion ban, while some local prosecutors like Republican Jerry Jarzynka of Jackson County have said they would prosecute abortion providers.

Meanwhile, Michiganders could vote this fall on reproductive rights.

If language is certified for the ballot and approved by a majority of voters, that would bring more legal clarity to the issue by explicitly enshrining the right to an abortion in Michigan’s Constitution.