PONTIAC, Mich. (WOOD) — A preliminary hearing that will decide the fate of Michigan’s abortion rights will be picked back up tomorrow morning.
Currently, there is a temporary restraining order in place that stops county prosecutors from following Michigan’s 1931 law banning abortion. Because today’s preliminary hearing was not finished by the end of workday, that temporary restraining order, which prevents county prosecutors from charging doctors and clinics that currently perform abortions, will remain in place for the time being.
In court, the state argued for a preliminary injunction, which is temporary bridge that will not criminalize abortions in Michigan until the court’s final ruling.
Lawyers who represent both Kent and Jackson counties prosecutors said the injunction is a moot point, because the state’s constitution does not have a current law on the books that protects a woman’s right for an abortion.
Only two witnesses for Whitmer’s administration were able to take the stand today due to time constraint. Dr. Lisa Harris, M.D., who testified for the state, said the day abortions were ruled illegal within Michigan for just a couple of hours, she and many of her colleagues at the University of Michigan had to turn patients away.
“There’s a lot of fear among doctors because they don’t want to go to jail. We don’t want to go to jail and we don’t want to break the law but the back-and-forth nature of what’s been happening has made some doctors, including some clinical trainees and learners say, ‘no, I’m out for the time being.’”
Whitmer’s administration argued that by not implementing a preliminary injunction, the status quo would once again be disrupted and cause more chaos and confusion for both patients and clinics alike.
County prosecutors said there is no existing status quo because, once again, the state of Michigan never guaranteed a woman’s right to choose. It was Roe v. Wade, a federal law, that protected abortion rights in the recent past.
“The status quo requirement here takes the issue away from the vote of the people … they’re saying the status quo is to let abortion continue. Well, that’s taking the issue away from the vote of the people and their elected representatives. It’s not the status quo to create a new constitutional right out of nothing and then apply it in a way that’s never been done in our state,” said Attorney David Kallman, who represents Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker.
The preliminary hearing is in recess until Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.
The judge is expected to decide Thursday whether the current temporary restraining order against prosecutors will be thrown out or whether to issue a preliminary injunction preventing them from pursuing abortion cases.