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Judge issues injunction to block enforcement of Michigan abortion ban

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An Oakland County judge has issued an injunction that blocks enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 law that bans abortions in most cases.

Judge Jacob Cunningham said the law appears to violate rights to due process.

And he said Governor Gretchen Whitmer is likely to prevail in her claim that abortion rights in Michigan are protected under the state Constitution.

Cunningham also noted an abortion rights proposal could appear on the November ballot and the public should be given the chance to decide the question.

The preliminary injunction Friday comes after the state Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that a May preliminary injunction applies only to the attorney general's office, not county prosecutors who handle most crimes.

The judge's ruling followed two days of testimony from witnesses. Prosecutors in some of the state's most populous counties have said they would not charge providers regardless of the decision. But Republican prosecutors in Kent, Jackson and Macomb counties have said they should be able to enforce the 1931 law.

David Kallman, an attorney representing two Republican county prosecutors, said an appeal is planned.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement:

“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. I am particularly grateful to Attorney General Dana Nessel and her team for their work on behalf of the state. The lack of legal clarity about abortion in Michigan has already caused far too much confusion for women who deserve certainty about their health care, and hardworking medical providers who should be able to do their jobs without worrying about being thrown behind bars. Once, over the course of a single day, abortion was legal in the morning, illegal around lunch time, and legal in the evening. We cannot have this kind of whiplash about something as fundamental as a woman’s right to control her own body. Michigan women are understandably scared and angry, and they deserve better than being treated as second class citizens. While today is welcome news, my team and I will remain vigilant in protecting reproductive freedom.

The sad reality is that a number of leaders in the state are actively looking for ways to make sure Michigan’s draconian 1931 law, which bans abortion for all women, doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest, and criminalizes nurses and doctors who offer reproductive care, is the law of the land. I am proud of my team today, but our work continues.“

Back in April, I filed a lawsuit and asked the Michigan Supreme Court to determine if abortion is constitutionally protected in Michigan. While we wait for the Supreme Court to rule, I will continue using every tool in my toolbox to fight like hell for women and health care providers.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel issued this statement:

“Abortion is critical healthcare. Uncertainty around the law has a chilling effect on the conduct of doctors and therefore limits access to care for Michigan women. Maintaining access to reproductive healthcare is absolutely necessary for the health and well-being of women and it is our duty to ensure that access for the roughly two million women of reproductive age who call Michigan home. Absent this preliminary injunction, physicians face a very real threat of prosecution depending on where they practice. There is no doubt that the statute criminalizing abortion is in direct conflict with the ability of the medical community to provide the standard of care consistent with their education, training, expertise and oath.

Women do not need to be protected from themselves by denying them the ability to make personal medical decisions consistent with their own moral, cultural, religious and ethical beliefs. Restricting access to reproductive healthcare jeopardizes the ability of physicians to deliver appropriate care and it denies women the right to decide the most intimate issues regarding their health, their bodies and their lives.”