Appeals court rules Michigan's 1931 abortion ban can be enforced by county prosecutors

More than a month after the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court, Michigan prosecutors can enforce a nearly 100-year-old law that banned abortions across the state.

The Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the May ruling that blocked the 1931 state law from going into effect. The law restricts almost all forms of abortion, regardless of incest and rape and was suspended in a Michigan Court of Claims ruling in a case involving Planned Parenthood. 

Judge Elizabeth Gleicher suspended the law over Planned Parenthood's "substantial likelihood" of winning the case.

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At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which would have allowed the laws to go into effect if not for Judge Gleicher's ruling.

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However, on Monday, Aug. 1, the appeals court said the preliminary injunction does not apply to county prosecutors and can be enforced.

Gleicher granted a preliminary injunction in May to Planned Parenthood of Michigan that stalled the enforcement of a 1931 state law criminalizing abortion. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, her ruling became the only legal barrier to that ban taking effect.

After Gleicher was assigned to oversee Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit, she informed both sides that she regularly contributes to the group and previously represented it in an abortion case decided 23 years ago.

But Gleicher wrote in Friday’s decision that she incorrectly remembered her affiliation with that case. She said that while Planned Parenthood filed statements in support of her client, she did not actually represent Planned Parenthood. She said the Legislature’s argument about her involvement in that case "borders on frivolous."

The ACLU of Michigan said that it has reached enough signatures on a ballot initiative to get the issue of abortion on the November ballot.