Critics of the lawsuit include Michigan Catholic Conference policy advocate Rebecca Mastee, who said in April, “The right to life for unborn children and its inherent value given by our Creator cannot be reduced to a legal opinion or legislative vote.”
Abortion advocacy groups in the state have launched a ballot initiative to override the 1931 law by way of a constitutional amendment.
Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher issued the preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the law on May 17. “After 50 years of legal abortion in Michigan,” she said, “there can be no doubt that the right of personal autonomy and bodily integrity enjoyed by our citizens includes the right of a woman, in consultation with her physician, to terminate a pregnancy.”
Gleicher said the right to an abortion is almost certainly guaranteed under the state constitution’s due process provisions that protect bodily integrity.
Critics, including the Michigan Republican Party, had said the judge should have recused herself from the case. They noted that Gleicher is a donor to Planned Parenthood, was honored by Planned Parenthood, and previously represented Planned Parenthood as a volunteer lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union in a failed challenge to precedent upholding the state abortion law.
Attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group and the Great Lakes Justice Center filed a legal challenge against the claims court injunction on behalf of two county prosecutors and two organizations: Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference. The complaint asked the appellate court to take control of the case and order the lower court to dismiss the case, arguing that the lower court had drastically exceeded its jurisdiction.
“Michigan’s elected officials have a duty to uphold and defend the law, and protect the lives of the unborn,” Denise Harle, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom and director of the ADF Center for Life, said Monday.
The appellate court said the preliminary injunction never applied to county prosecutors, as the claims court had asserted.
Harle called the appellate court “a major step forward in allowing the county prosecutors to do their job and enforce the state law that protects children and mothers, even if the attorney general refuses to do so.”