An Oakland County judge issued a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban on Monday, hours after the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the law does not apply to county prosecutors.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s legal team requested the block, which was fulfilled by Judge Jacob Cunningham of Oakland County.
“(Whitmer) has established that (prosecutors’) public statements that they will consider a case against an abortion provider should a law enforcement officer bring one to them, coupled with the Michigan Court of Appeal’s Ausut 1, 2022 decision that county prosecutors are not bound by Judge (Elizabeth) Gleicher’s May 17, 2022 preliminary injunctioin poses a threat of immediate and irreparable injury to the people of the State of Michigan,” Cunningham wrote in the order, which was obtained by the Detroit Free Press.
In Monday morning’s Court of Appeals ruling, Presiding Judge Stephen L. Borrello and Judges Michael J. Kelly and Michael F. Gadola ruled that county prosecutors are local officials, not state officials, excluding them from the injunction.
“We conclude that on the facts before this Court, plaintiffs Jarzynka and Becker are not and could not be bound by the Court of Claims’ May 17, 2022 preliminary injunction because the preliminary injunction does not apply to county prosecutors,” the Court of Appeals order read.
Following the leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in May, Second District Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Gleicher issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s 1931 law from taking effect. While the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision rendered the law unconstitutional, it was never officially repealed or replaced.
The overruling of Roe v. Wade in June’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization made the future of abortion access in the state of Michigan unclear. Following Gleicher’s opinion, anti-abortion groups challenged the ruling, and multiple Michigan prosecutors said they would still enforce the ban.
In a statement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office, spokesperson Kaylie Hanson said Whitmer is evaluating her next steps in light of this decision and will continue to advocate for abortion access.
“Michiganders should know that Governor Whitmer will continue to fight like hell to protect a woman’s ability to make her own medical decisions with her trusted health care provider,” the statement read. “With politicians in Michigan and across the country pushing dangerous abortion bans, even in instances of rape or incest, Governor Whitmer will do everything in her power to ensure that no one will be prosecuted or jailed for seeking or providing abortion care in our state.”
In a tweet, Washtenaw County prosecutor Eli Savit affirmed his commitment not to prosecute anyone for receiving or performing an abortion.
“We are aware of the Court of Appeals’s decision today allowing county prosecutors to enforce Michigan’s archaic abortion law,” the tweet read. “We anticipate swift appeals and will support however we can. In the interim, please know that in Washtenaw, our office will NOT be prosecuting. Period.”
A ballot initiative to amend the Michigan Constitution to protect reproductive rights is expected to be on the ballot this November after receiving nearly 800,000 signatures in support. The signatures are still being reviewed by the Board of State Canvassers. If approved, the amendment will be officially placed on the ballot, and if it receives a majority vote, it will take effect 45 days after the election.
Summer News Editor Samantha Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.