Judge stretches order that keeps abortion legal in Michigan

Posted at 4:54 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 23:19:30-04

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP MODIFIED) — A Michigan judge on Wednesday extended an order that bars county prosecutors from enforcing a 1931 ban on abortion.

Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham agreed after lawyers for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer argued that extinguishing his Monday order would cause chaos around the state.

The restraining order will hold at least until the next hearing on Aug. 17.

“Well obviously, I'm relieved and comforted,” Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said.

Michigan's decades-old abortion ban makes it a crime to perform abortions unless the life of the mother is in danger.

A Court of Claims judge in May suspended the law, saying it's probably unconstitutional. That step had kept abortion legal in Michigan even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

But the situation in Michigan became clouded this week when the state appeals court said the decision applied only to the attorney general's office, not 13 prosecutors in counties where abortion services are provided.

Lawyers for Whitmer, a Democrat who supports abortion rights, rushed to Cunningham's court for a temporary restraining order, which was granted Monday.

“There is not right to an abortion under Michigan's constitution, so to grant a TRO to stop enforcement of a law based on the current existing status of the law is an interesting outcome,” attorney David Kallman said.

Democratic prosecutors in some of the state's largest counties have pledged to not enforce the 1931 abortion ban. But Republican prosecutors in Kent and Jackson counties have expressed a different position.

“We’re going to continue to fight like hell. I filed a lawsuit, people said was it necessary? Well it sure as heck was now with the recent decision. We went right to court and got our restraining order and we’ll continue to fight every step of the way,” Whitmer said.