May 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Court temporarily blocks Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban

Picture of an abortion rights protest
Protesters hold placards, chant, and march through downtown Detroit in support of Roe v. Wade on May 7, 2022. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Michigan court has temporarily blocked a currently unenforced 1931 state law that banned abortion in the state, Planned Parenthood of Michigan announced on Tuesday.

The big picture: While it is unlikely that the law would immediately take effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion rights advocates worried that the absence of the precedent could open a legal path for the ban to be brought back.

What we're watching: The Michigan Court of Claims granted Planned Parenthood's request for a temporary injunction while the legal challenge continues.

  • The court said that while the Supreme Court decides on the potential future of Roe, the temporary injunction was "warranted to avoid the necessity of another motion and further ruling."

Catch up fast: Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed a lawsuit challenging the pre-Roe ban in April, the same day that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) filed another one asking the state's Supreme Court to rule that abortion access in the state is protected under the state's Constitution.

How it works: The law makes abortion illegal unless it is necessary to save the pregnant person's life. If the ban were to take effect, it would make it so that anybody who provided an abortion in violation of the law could be found guilty of manslaughter.

What they're saying: "This injunction is a victory for the millions of Michigan women fighting for their rights. The judge acted quickly in the interest of bodily integrity and personal freedom to preserve this important right and found a likelihood of success in the state law being found unconstitutional," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement.

Details: The court said in its decision granting the injunction that it "finds a strong likelihood that the plaintiffs will prevail on the merits of their constitutional challenge."

  • It added that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, "plaintiffs and their patients face a serious danger of irreparable harm if prevented from accessing abortion services ... The inability to exercise a fundamental constitutional right inherently constitutes irreparable harm."
  • The court stated that by temporarily blocking the law, it will be able to "make a full ruling on the merits of the case without subjecting plaintiffs and their patients to the impact of a total ban on abortion services" in Michigan.

Go deeper: Blue states move to protect abortion access without Roe

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Michigan Attorney General.

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