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Oakland County judge extends order that bars county prosecutors from enforcing 1931 abortion ban

protestors holding signs on both signs of the abortion rights argument in an outdoor protest
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio
Protesters on both sides of the abortion rights argument hold signs at a "Bans Off Our Bodies" protest in Ann Arbor, Mich., May 14, 2022.

An Oakland County judge has extended an order that puts on hold enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 criminal ban on abortion services. The decision means abortion remains legal in Michigan counties that have abortion clinics.

The decision keeps intact a temporary restraining order issued by Oakland County Circuit Judge James Cunningham. He first issued the order earlier this week.

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

Michigan's 1931 abortion ban makes it a felony to perform abortions unless the life of the mother is in danger.

The case pits county prosecutors who want to be allowed to charge abortion providers against Governor Gretchen Whitmer and county prosecutors who oppose resurrecting the 1931 law.

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald is in the latter camp and attended the hearing. She said the restraining order protects medical professionals from prosecution until the case is decided.

“While I’m very concerned about medical professionals, the real — the real issue here is we need to give stability and safety to women in this state, that they know what the state of the law is because it’s their bodies,” she said.

David Kallman represents prosecutors who want the option of filing charges.

“You can’t just make this stuff up and attack laws or create new constitutional rights out of thin air,” he told Cunningham in the hearing. “That’s just not the way we do things. The way it’s done is in the Legislature and through the people and through the ballot box, and not through judicial activism. And that’s what they’re asking you to do, judge.”

Separately, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has also asked the Michigan Supreme Court to step in take a case in which she argues the court should declare abortion rights are protected by the state constitution.

And a ballot drive has turned in roughly 750,000 signatures in an effort to put an abortion-rights amendment to voters in November.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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