GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — A Michigan judge suspended a state law from 1931 that would ban abortion if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Judge Elizabeth Gleicher in Michigan's Court of Claims says that law likely violates the state's constitution.
"I'm so, so happy to hear this news. I was scared for my patients and what it meant for them," Planned Parenthood of Michigan's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sarah Wallett says.
Judge Glechier granted the preliminary junction, which means the 1931 state law banning abortion is not enforceable while the case is being settled, even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
"This means that I know I'll be able to continue to take care of my patients, and I'll be able to help them achieve their dreams and their goals by controlling their reproductive health decisions," Dr. Wallett says.
Last month, Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed a lawsuit against the state to take the law off the books. In the judge's ruling Tuesday, she says forced pregnancy is a threat to a woman's constitutional right to bodily integrity and due process.
"Right now, [the preliminary injunction] maintains the status quo," ACLU of Michigan's Deputy Legal Director Bonsitu Kitaba says. "Abortion is still legal in the state of Michigan, people can still access [it and] people should still feel safe to go to their doctors and access safe, legal abortions."
The defendant in this case is Attorney General Dana Nessel, who said she would not enforce the abortion ban. Because of that, Senior Counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, who represents Right to Life Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference, says the court had no jurisdiction.
"They may not like it. But no one has the ability to unilaterally ignore change, encourage the invalidation of Michigan law," John Bursch of the Alliance Defending Freedom says. "They should be working through the democratic process, just like anyone else."
He also argues that Judge Gleicher should've recused herself as a known donor of Planned Parenthood of Michigan who has represented the organization before.
Since only a government entity like the attorney general or state legislature can intervene as a defendant, Alliance Defending Freedom is looking at their options. Bursch says they'll make an announcement on their plan by the end of the week.
"We could intervene possibly as a plaintiff, because we have the same interest in upholding the law that Planned Parenthood is claiming and trying to strike down the law," he says.
There's another case in Michigan that could decide abortion rights. The Michigan Supreme Court is looking at a lawsuit brought forward by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to establish abortion as a right in the state constitution.
"As soon as the Michigan Supreme Court rules on it, all lower courts in Michigan are bound by that decision. So that would that would ultimately decide the case with no further need for litigation. And so we'll see how quickly they act on on that question," WMU Thomas M. Cooley Law School Professor Brendan Beery says.
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