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Nessel says she can’t stop abortion prosecutions if Roe is reversed

U.S. Supreme Court
Joe Sohm/Visions of America
Universal Images Group via Getty
U.S. Supreme Court

“Don’t bother bringing ‘em to my office because we’re not going to authorize those,” Nessel said during an online news conference.

Michigan’s 1931 law is one of the strictest in the nation and, if restored, would make it a felony to terminate a pregnancy. The law has no exceptions for rape or incest.

Nessel said she has the discretion to decide how her office’s resources are spent and she won’t use them to take patients and health care providers to court to face criminal abortion charges.

But Nessel said her discretion does not extend to local prosecutors, who would decide to whether to enforce the law in their counties.

“I don’t think I, as the attorney general of this state, have the authority to tell the duly elected county prosecutors what they can and what they cannot charge,” she said.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has filed a legal challenge to the ban. She has asked that the case go directly to the Michigan Supreme Court and for the justices to preemptively declare that abortion rights are covered under the state constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses. The Supreme Court is not required to comply.

There is also a petition campaign underway to explicitly enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution. A constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters.

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Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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