The Phoenix Flyer

Judge blocks prosecutors from enforcing Michigan’s ‘chilling and dangerous’ abortion ban

By: - August 19, 2022 6:34 pm

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Mackinac Policy Conference, June 1, 2022. Credit: Laina G. Stebbins

An Michigan judge has ruled that an injunction on the state’s abortion ban will remain in effect, preventing local prosecutors from enforcing a 1931 law that prohibits doctors in Michigan from performing any abortions except to save the life of the “pregnant woman.”

Circuit Court Judge Jacob Cunningham issued the ruling Friday after two days of oral arguments, saying that while “injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy … as currently applied, the court finds [the 1931 abortion law] is chilling and dangerous to our state’s population of childbearing people and the medical professionals who care for them.”

“A person carrying a child has a right to bodily autonomy and integrity, as well as a safe doctor-patient relationship as they have been able to do so for the past 50 years,” Cunningham said. “Weaponizing the criminal law against providers to force pregnancy on our state’s women is simply contrary to the notion of due process, equal protection, and bodily autonomy in this court’s eyes.”

Republican prosecutors in three counties had sought to enforce the law.

Cunningham noted that a reproductive rights constitutional amendment was likely to appear on the ballot in November, which would invalidate the 1931 law. He also said the 91-year-old law raised broad questions of equal protection and bodily autonomy.

The ruling was hailed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who had sought the injunction.

“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,” said Whitmer.

Jon King, a veteran journalist who serves as an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University, wrote this article for the Michigan Advance, like the Phoenix an affiliate of the nonprofit States Newsroom network.

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