dana bash michigan voters
CNN report: Abortion takes center stage in Michigan's governor's race
04:16 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A Michigan state court on Wednesday declared Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban unconstitutional and blocked it from being enforced, allowing abortion to remain legal in the state.

In an order issued Wednesday, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher permanently enjoined Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel from enforcing the 1931 law. Her order also directed the attorney general to advise the county prosecuting attorneys she’s charged with supervising that the law has been declared unconstitutional.

The court found that the law violates the Michigan Constitution’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. The law, Gleicher wrote, is “facially unconstitutional because its enforcement would deprive pregnant women of their right to bodily integrity and autonomy, and the equal protection of the law.”

The 1931 law, which was invalidated by the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade but remained on the state’s books, prohibits abortions even in cases of rape or incest, except to preserve the woman’s life. Anticipating the US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe, Planned Parenthood of Michigan and a physician in the state filed the lawsuit in April, arguing the Michigan law violated the state constitution. Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also sued separately to block the law from taking effect.

In response to Wednesday’s ruling, Nessel said in a statement that “abortion is essential healthcare, and this order ensures access to reproductive care for all Michigan women.”

“As Attorney General, I have used the resources of my department to ensure access to care at every opportunity, but our fundamental rights should not be subject to the discretion of elected office holders,” the Democrat said in the statement. “All Michiganders have a duty to ensure their rights are preserved and protected.”

Nessel’s office confirmed that she does not plan to appeal the judge’s decision to the Michigan Supreme Court. The attorney general had previously said she would not enforce the decades-old abortion law, nor defend the law in court.

An appeal, however, could be brought by members of the GOP-led Michigan House and Senate, who were allowed to intervene as defendants.

Whitmer said in a statement following the ruling that “this decision is likely to be challenged, and we know that there’s a group of extremists who will stop at nothing to ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest.”

“With our rights still hanging by a thread, the Michigan Supreme Court needs to provide certainty and rule on my lawsuit to protect the right to abortion in the state constitution,” the governor continued. “I will keep using every tool in my toolbox to protect women, nurses, and doctors here in Michigan.”

Gleicher had granted a motion for a preliminary injunction in May, and denied the lawmakers’ motion for reconsideration on June 15.

Abortion rights supporters are also awaiting a ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court this week on whether a proposed constitutional amendment should be certified and placed on the November ballot. The amendment would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution and block the pre-Roe abortion ban, its backers say.

CNN’s Omar Jimenez contributed to this report.