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Judge won’t rescind order that blocks enforcement of abortion law

Abortion rights activists march in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3, 2021.
Gayatri Malhotra
Abortion rights activists march in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3, 2021.

A judge is extending an order that puts on hold enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 criminal ban on abortion services. The decision means abortion remains legal in 13 Michigan counties that have abortion clinics.

The decision keeps intact a temporary restraining order issued by Oakland County Circuit Judge James Cunningham. He first issued the order earlier this week.

The case pits prosecutors who want to be allowed to charge abortion providers against Governor Gretchen Whitmer and prosecutors who oppose resurrecting the 1931 law.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald is in the latter camp and attended the hearing. She said the restraining order protects medical professionals from prosecution until the case is decided.

“And while I’m very concerned about medical professionals, the real, the real issue here is we need to give stability and safety to women in this state that they know what the state of the law is because it’s their bodies,” she said.

David Kallman represents prosecutors who want the option of filing charges.

“You can’t just make this stuff up and attack laws or create new constitutional rights out of thin air,” he said. “That’s just not the way we do things. The way it’s done is in the Legislature and through the people and through the ballot box and not through judicial activism. And that’s what they’re asking you to do, judge.”

The next hearing in the case is August 17. Separately, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has also asked the Michigan Supreme Court to step in and declare abortion rights are protected by the state constitution.

A ballot drive has also turned in roughly 750,000 signatures in an effort to put an abortion rights amendment to voters in November.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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