Nonetheless, Gray emphasized the extreme impact of the injunction against the law.
“Even under Roe v. Wade, the Michigan law could be enforced against non-physicians and against physicians when they perform abortions after viability and didn’t have a valid reason,” he said. Under the injunction, he said, “there would be nothing these prosecutors could do.”
“The order says that county prosecutors are enjoined from any and all enforcement of the pro-life law. That means that they can’t prosecute even a non-physician who performs an abortion, or an abortionist could take the life of a nine-month-old (unborn) baby for no reason and there would be nothing these county prosecutors could do,” Gray said.
“There are actually fewer restrictions on abortion than ever,” he added. “Under this injunction, what the pro-abortion side is getting is everything that they want from the ballot initiative that looks like it will be pending soon.”
The proposed ballot measure, billed by its backers as Reproductive Freedom for All, is set for a hearing on Aug. 31. Backers have collected over 750,000 petition signatures in support of a constitutional amendment. However, foes of the ballot measure have raised concerns about compliance with election law, saying that serious typographical errors on ballot petitions should invalidate the measure.
The Michigan Catholic Conference has warned the proposed change would effectively allow abortion throughout pregnancy, remove parental consent requirements for minors seeking abortions, and allow non-physicians to perform abortions.
It has also criticized the lawsuits against the state law.
“It is unfortunate that the judicial branch is being used to try to invalidate a longstanding policy approved by elected representatives and left untouched by the Legislature for nearly a century since,” Rebecca Mastee, a policy advocate at the Michigan Catholic Conference, said April 7.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the Michigan Catholic Conference and Michigan Right to Life in the legal conflicts over the state’s pro-life law.
In early August, a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling overturned a preliminary injunction issued by a state claims court judge. The claims court judge in May had claimed there was a right to legal abortion. However, the appellate court said that county prosecutors have the authority to defend and enforce the state’s abortion law.
Later that same day as the appellate court ruling, Judge Cunningham granted a new injunction against the law.
(Story continues below)
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Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.