A Michigan judge on Friday ruled county prosecutors cannot enforce the state’s 1931 abortion ban – only two months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, handing the issue back to the states.
The law was triggered by the Supreme Court’s ruling, and barred all abortions except when the life of the mother is in danger. While it was retroactively blocked from going into effect by a separate preliminary injunction, the state Court of Appeals ruled that it only applied to the attorney general’s office – allowing county prosecutors to still charge abortion providers.
Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham ruled against that decision Friday, saying that restrictions regarding the medical procedure must be made by residents of the state “at the ballot box,” according to the Associated Press.
Michigan’s board of canvassers is scheduled to meet and announce whether a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights in the state will be included on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Until then, Cunningham said it was imperative to issue an injunction blocking enforcement of the law.
“The harm to the body of women and people capable of pregnancy in not issuing the injunction could not be more real, clear, present and dangerous to the court,” he said.
The judge’s ruling stems from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s month’s long effort to protect the medical procedure in the state. In April, the Democrat asked the state Supreme Court to determine if abortion is constitutionally protected. The court has yet to release a decision.
At the beginning of August, attorneys representing Whitmer requested a preliminary injunction to block the ban.
Whitmer praised the Friday ruling, saying it “will protect women and ensure nurses and doctors can keep caring for their patients without fear of prosecution.”
“While today is welcome news, my team and I will remain vigilant in protecting reproductive freedom,” Whitmer continued.
“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.”
David Kallman, an attorney representing two Republican county prosecutors, told the Associated Press on Friday that an appeal to Cunningham’s decision has been planned.
“The judge ignored all of the clear legal errors and problems in this case, it appears to me, simply because the issue is abortion,” he told the outlet.
In his closing arguments, the attorney reportedly emphasized that preliminary injunctions should not be how laws are changed.