Judge grants preliminary injunction on Michigan abortion ban

The governor filed a suit to determine if the abortion ban is constitutional.

August 19, 2022, 12:27 PM

A Michigan judge ruled that county prosecutors cannot enforce a near-total abortion ban on the books since 1931, ruling in favor of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Lawyers representing the governor had asked the court to grant a temporary restraining order after the judge held a two-day evidentiary hearing.

Judge Jacob Cunningham granted Whitmer's request for a preliminary injunction, arguing not issuing this injunction would cause harm to the public.

"This court finds it is overwhelmingly in the public's interest to let the people of the great state of Michigan decide this matter at the ballot box, assuming the constitutional amendment initiative is on the ballot on Nov. 8," Cunningham said during the Friday hearing.

On Aug. 31, the state's board of canvassers will meet and announce whether a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights will be on the ballot in November.

"While today is welcome news, my team and I will remain vigilant in protecting reproductive freedom," Whitmer said in a statement about the ruling. "The sad reality is that a number of leaders in the state are actively looking for ways to make sure Michigan's draconian 1931 law, which bans abortion for all women, doesn't include exceptions for rape or incest, and criminalizes nurses and doctors who offer reproductive care, is the law of the land. I am proud of my team today, but our work continues."

PHOTO: In this Oct. 16, 2020 file photo Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks at Beech Woods Recreation Center in Southfield, Mich..
In this Oct. 16, 2020 file photo Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks at Beech Woods Recreation Center in Southfield, Mich.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Cunningham, reading a written statement, said that not upholding the temporary hold on enforcement of the ban would cause "irreparable harm" to the people of Michigan. Cunningham also said that the defendants would suffer "zero" harm from the court preventing them from enforcing the abortion ban.

Whitmer filed a lawsuit in April seeking to uphold abortion protections in the state. Whitmer is asking the state's Supreme Court to clarify whether Michigan's Constitution protects the right to abortion.

This is the latest development in a legal battle initiated by Whitmer to determine whether the abortion ban is in line with the state's Constitution, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that established a federal right to abortion, in June.

The 1931 law makes it a felony to provide an abortion unless it is medically necessary to save the life of a pregnant person. The law does not make exceptions for rape or incest. The law also states that if the pregnant person dies, the provider would be charged with manslaughter.

"It's clear to the court that only one group is harmed by the statute: women and people capable of carrying children," Cunningham said.

The law was in effect from 1931 to 1948, according to the Michigan legislature.

Related Topics