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Judge grants Whitmer abortion law injunction request

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Acting on a request from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 felony abortion ban. It was the final act in day-long legal drama on the status of abortion rights in Michigan.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Cunningham issued the order Tuesday in response to a motion filed on Whitmer’s behalf that argued a temporary restraining order “is necessary to prevent the immediate and irreparable injury” that would occur if abortion prosecutions are allowed.

In a statement, Whitmer said, “I am grateful for this relief—however temporary—because it will help ensure that Michigan’s doctors, nurses, and health care systems can continue caring for their patients.”

The case before was filed on behalf of prosecutors who say they should get to decide whether to file charges against abortion providers now that Roe v. Wade is overturned. Their attorney, David Kallman, said the court action was a hasty decision issued on shaky grounds.

“This is something that should only be decided after full briefing and hearing from all sides. In our opinion, this was wrongly decided,” he told Michigan Public Radio. “We’re just starting to go through it. There are procedural errors, and we’ll be pointing those out to the court.”

Judge Cunningham scheduled a hearing for Wednesday.

All this came after a Michigan Court of Appeals panel issued a ruling Monday morning that held county prosecutors can file charges against abortion providers and struck down an injunction issued in May by a state Court of Claims judge. That set off a chain of events that culminated in the decision by Cunningham.

Whitmer has also asked the Michigan Supreme Court to take the case and rule that abortion rights are protected by the Michigan Constitution.

“This lack of legal clarity—that took place within the span of a workday—is yet another textbook example of why the Michigan Supreme Court must take up my lawsuit against the 1931 extreme abortion ban as soon as possible,” she said. “Michigan’s, doctors, nurses, and health care systems cannot afford to wait any longer.”

The Supreme Court has not responded to the request and is not required to do so.

A campaign to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution has also submitted a record number of signatures in its efforts to get on the November ballot.

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