In the days since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, officials in Michigan have said repeatedly that abortion remains legal and clinics are open, after a temporary court injunction blocked a nearly century-old ban that was unenforceable for nearly 50 years because of Roe. Two Republican county prosecutors said they would consider pursuing criminal charges against doctors under the statute, which contains no exceptions for rape or incest, the Washington Post reports. An attorney for Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker and Jackson County Prosecutor Jerard Jarzynka said his clients do not believe the injunction applies to them. The battle over the suddenly relevant statute illustrates the uncertainty and confusion unleashed by Friday’s Supreme Court decision. The ruling erased in a day a right that had existed since 1973 and led to a patchwork of laws, many of them now in fierce legal and political fights.
Michigan is among seven states with a pre-Roe abortion ban that was never repealed, says the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute, which supports reproductive rights. It is one of two, along with Wisconsin, that has a Democratic governor determined to see the old legislation invalidated and a Republican-controlled legislature that wants it enforced. In both states, most residents favor abortion rights. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs told doctors on Monday that its position is that abortion remains legal because of the injunction. In a sign of confusion over the status of the law, the state’s largest health-care system, BHSH System, said it would follow the 1931 statue and terminate pregnancies only when necessary to preserve the life of the woman. Democratic lawmakers condemned the decision and the company reversed course a day later, announcing that medically necessary abortion procedures would continue. BHSH described the current landscape as “challenging” for physicians and patients and urged the state’s courts to “bring clarity as quickly as possible.”