Aug 19, 2022 - Health

Michigan court temporarily blocks pre-Roe abortion ban

Picture of abortion rights protesters

Abortion rights demonstrators during a national day of protest in Lansing, Michigan on July 4, 2022. Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A county judge in Michigan on Friday ruled that county prosecutors cannot enforce the state's 1931 pre-Roe abortion ban.

Driving the news: Circuit Court Judge Jacob Cunningham said that enforcing the ban would "send the health care system into crisis."

Catch up fast: The 1931 law makes abortion illegal unless it is necessary to save the pregnant person's life.

  • Under the ban, anybody who provides an abortion in violation of the law could be found guilty of manslaughter.
  • Earlier this month, a judge ruled that the injunction on the pre-Roe ban does not apply to local prosecutors, allowing them to enforce the law.

What they're saying: "I am grateful for this ruling that will protect women and ensure nurses and doctors can keep caring for their patients without fear of prosecution," said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a statement.

  • "Absent this preliminary injunction, physicians face a very real threat of prosecution depending on where they practice. There is no doubt that the statue criminalizing abortion is in direct conflict with the ability of the medical community to provide the standard of care consistent with their education, training, expertise and oath," said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

State of play: Abortion rights advocates in Michigan have submitted over 750,000 signatures for a ballot initiative that would create a state constitutional right to "reproductive freedom."

  • If at least 425,059 signatures are verified, the measure will appear on the ballot in the fall.
  • The proposal is currently facing legal challenges.
  • The judge’s decision means there is no longer a possibility that the 1931 law could be enforceable ahead of the November election.
Go deeper