6th Circuit Court grants restraining order against Michigan abortion law

The Oakland County 6th Circuit Court late Monday issued a temporary restraining order against the Michigan Court of Appeals’ ruling earlier the same day allowing county prosecutors to enforce Michigan’s 1931 abortion law.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requested the emergency ex parte restraining order after the Court of Appeals decision, which was rendered after the state's 1931 law banning abortion was triggered after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling in June.

“The Plaintiff [Whitmer] has established that Defendants’ public statements that they will consider a case against an abortion provider should a law enforcement officer bring one to them, coupled with the Michigan Court of Appeals’ August 1, 2022 decision that County prosecutors are not bound by Judge Gleicher’s May 17, 2022 preliminary injunction, poses a threat of immediate and irreparable injury to the people of the State of Michigan,” Circuit Judge James J. Cunningham wrote in his decision granting the restraining order.

Whitmer issued a statement after the order was granted.

“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,” Whitmer said. “Earlier, a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals cleared a path for county prosecutors to use Michigan’s extreme 1931 abortion ban to prosecute doctors and nurses and jail them for doing their jobs. I immediately filed for a temporary restraining order, and I am proud that the Oakland Circuit Court has approved my request. 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. Michigan’s, doctors, nurses, and health care systems cannot afford to wait any longer. I will keep fighting like hell to protect women and health care providers.”

Before her motion was granted, Whitmer issued a statement in which she pledged defiance against the Court of Appeals' Monday determination.

“Today’s dangerous decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals clears a path for county prosecutors to use Michigan’s extreme 1931 abortion ban to prosecute doctors and nurses and jail them for doing their jobs,” Whitmer said. “That is why I have taken immediate action and filed a request for a temporary restraining order against enforcement. We cannot risk further confusion for women, health care providers, and all Michiganders. As today’s unexpected action proves, the overturn of Roe v Wade in June has left reproductive freedom hanging by a thread in Michigan. I have taken a number of unprecedented steps to protect the 2.2 million women in Michigan who would lose the right to control their own bodies. I will keep fighting like hell to protect women and health care providers.”

Defendants listed on Whitmer’s motion included county prosecutors representing the following counties: Emmett; Wayne; Genesee; Grand Traverse; Ingham; Jackson; Kalamazoo; Kent; Macomb; Marquette; Oakland; Saginaw; and Washtenaw.

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