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Ban on enforcing abortion law to be topic of court hearing Wednesday

Hundreds of protesters stand outside the Michigan State Capitol holding signs in support of rights.
Melorie Begay
Supporters of abortion rights gathered outside the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on May 15.

An Oakland County judge will open a hearing Wednesday on whether to continue an order that suspends enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban.

The expert witnesses who will testify and be cross-examined include Doctor Natasha Bagdasarian, who is Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Chief Medical Executive. She will defend the governor’s request for a restraining order against enforcing Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban.

The Michigan Court of Appeals just ruled that Whitmer does not have to comply with a subpoena that called for her to personally show up to face questions.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Cunningham issued the temporary restraining order at Whitmer’s request. It blocks prosecutors from charging abortion providers under the dormant 1931 law. Prosecutors in Kent and Jackson counties want the restraining order to be lifted so they can decide whether and when to file felony charges. If the judge refuses the request, an appeal is a near-certainty.

There’s also an opposition brief filed by other county prosecutors who support abortion rights, and they say there should be an order that applies statewide while the case is litigated.

Whitmer has filed a motion asking the Michigan Supreme Court to bypass lower courts and take the case directly. She wants a ruling that abortion rights are protected by a privacy clause in the Michigan Constitution.

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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