Michigan judge extends order that keeps abortion legal

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PONTIAC, Michigan (TBEN) — A Michigan judge on Wednesday extended an injunction prohibiting prosecutors from enforcing a 1931 abortion ban.

Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham agreed after attorneys for Governor Gretchen Whitmer argued that untying his Monday order would cause chaos in the state.

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“If you need one, you need one today or very, very soon,” Assistant Attorney General Linus Banghart-Linn said of abortion services. “We don’t want any more confusion.”

The restraining order applies in any case until the next hearing on 17 August.

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

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A judge of the Court of Claims in May suspended the law in another lawsuit, saying it is likely unconstitutional. That move kept abortion legal in Michigan even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

But the status was clouded this week when the state appeals court said the decision only applied to the attorney general’s office, not prosecutors in counties where abortion services are offered.

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

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Democratic prosecutors in some of the state’s largest counties, especially the Detroit area, have vowed not to enforce the 1931 abortion ban. But Republican prosecutors in Kent and Jackson counties have taken a different stance.

David Kallman, an attorney for the two GOP prosecutors, argued against upholding the restraining order.

“Since when does a governor have the right to go after a law he or she doesn’t like?” said Kalman. “Just come to court and just say, ‘Hey, I could be harmed by this, so I want this law overturned or I want to change it.’ That is ridiculous.”

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Cunningham refused to allow attorney John Bursch to plead on behalf of the Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference.

The judge said the anti-abortion groups are not formal parties to the lawsuit.

Separately, in November, voters will likely have a chance to decide whether to add abortion rights to the state constitution and trump the old law.

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