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Kent County Prosecutor says he will enforce Michigan's 1931 abortion law despite injunction

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is asking the state Supreme Court to make a ruling on whether the 1931 abortion ban can be enforced.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Kent County's Prosecutor says he will enforce Michigan's 1931 abortion ban should a case meet all the criteria. 

That's one of the reasons why Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately consider the lawsuit she filed Friday to decide if Michigan's state constitution protects the right to abortion.

She claims that county prosecutors and health providers, such as Beaumont Health Spectrum Health, have misunderstood the current legal status of abortions in Michigan. 

“Right now, abortion remains safe and legal in Michigan because of a court order temporarily blocking enforcement of the state’s 1931 abortion ban,” said Gov. Whitmer. “But in the wake of the decision in Dobbs overturning Roe, certain county prosecutors and health providers have expressed confusion about the current legal status of abortion in Michigan. This only underscores the need for the Michigan Supreme Court to act now, which is why I sent a notice to the court urging them to immediately take up my lawsuit and decide if access to abortion is protected under the Michigan Constitution. Getting this done will put an end to any confusion and ensure that Michiganders, health providers, and prosecutors understand the law.”

You can read the notice of intervening development filed Monday here: 

Michigan is one of many states with a law on the books banning abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Abortion in Michigan is still legal right now. The law that would ban it statewide is temporarily suspended while a preliminary injunction makes its way through the court.

The injunction is in place as a result of a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Michigan and an abortion provider earlier this year. The suit argues the ban is unconstitutionally vague and violates the right to liberty, bodily integrity, equal protection and privacy.

Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nessel says Michigan providers cannot be prosecuted for providing abortion care due to the injunction. 

“As it currently stands, providing abortion care in Michigan cannot be prosecuted, and I encourage those with appointments to move forward as scheduled and consult with their doctors,” Nessel said. “Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling last week, I remain committed to ensuring a woman’s right to choose and will continue to fight against every attempt to limit access to care. This includes ensuring Michiganders are properly informed regarding the current state court battle that is far from over.”  

However, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker says he will abide by whatever laws are passed by the legislature or by voter initiative down the road. 

But for now, he says there is a law on the books it would be improper for him to ignore it. 

"I do not believe it proper for me to simply ignore a law, any law, that was passed by the Michigan Legislature and signed by the Governor," Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said. 

"I have always held it would be improper for me to pick and choose the laws I wish to enforce that have validly passed and signed. I will not start now." 

You can read Becker's full statement here

RELATED: Judge suspends Michigan's dormant 1931 abortion ban

Gov. Whitmer firmly disagrees with Becker and the Jackson County Prosecutor's position and says they are bound by the Court of Claims order. 

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