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Michigan appeals court ruling lets county prosecutors file charges in 1931 abortion law

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said he would review any case brought forward and enforce the law.

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Court of Appeals says a court injunction that freezes the state's 1931 abortion ban does not apply to county prosecutors.  

In a ruling Monday, judges issued an order that allows for county prosecutors to, at their discretion, charge individuals who violate the 1931 ban on performing abortions.

Kent and Jackson County Prosecutors, Chris Becker and Jerard M. Jarzynka, challenged the preliminary injunction issued in May by Judge Gleicher on the grounds that county prosecutors were not included in the ruling.

On Monday, the Michigan Court of Appeals agreed and said that county prosecutors were not state officials, therefore were not bound by the injunction and can prosecute where they see fit.

Prosecutor Chris Becker's stance on enforcing the 1931 law has not changed. 

"I have been informed that the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that county prosecutors are not bound by the injunction issued in Planned Parenthood of Michigan v Attorney General of the State of Michigan. I appreciate the clarification issued by the court in that case; as the court recognized and as I believed, the decision in that case applied only to state actors/ it never applied to county prosecutors. With that said, nothing changes from the statement I issued weeks ago," Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said in a written statement. 

"I cannot and will not ignore a validly passed law. It a report is presented to this office, we will review it like we do any other report of possible criminal behavior. We will make the decision to charge, or not to charge based on the facts presented in the report and the applicable Michigan law."

Becker said his office has not received any reports for review related to abortion.

The ACLU said they've reached enough signatures to get abortion protections on the ballot in November.

Planned Parenthood of Michigan issued a statement regarding the updated ruling:

"The injunction barring enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 criminal abortion ban remains in effect and applies to all Michigan county prosecutors. Under Michigan court rule MCR 7.215(F)(1)(a), “the Court of Appeals judgment is effective after the expiration of the time for filing an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, or, if such an application is filed, after the disposition of the case by the Supreme Court.” This means that the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling cannot take effect during the 21-day appeal window. 

"Planned Parenthood of Michigan will continue to evaluate our legal options and remains committed to protecting abortion access in Michigan.

"Planned Parenthood of Michigan will continue to provide abortion services in accordance with the law. PPMI patients can keep their appointments and our doors remain open."

It is unclear if the ruling takes effect immediately or if there is a 21-day appeal window where the ruling is not currently active.

You can read the court ruling here: 

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