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MI Court of Appeals confirms county prosecutors have full authority to enforce state’s pro-life law

ADF attorneys represent two pro-life groups in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the attorney general
Leaders in the pro-life movement spoke about how to build a life-affirming culture long after Dobbs has been decided.

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Monday that county prosecutors have full authority to defend and enforce the state’s 1931 law that protects unborn lives, limiting the Michigan Court of Claims judge’s previous ruling that had halted enforcement of the state’s pro-life law. Additionally, the Michigan Court of Appeals clarified that the court’s preliminary injunction never applied to county prosecutors in the first place, so counties can enforce the pro-life law immediately.

Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Great Lakes Justice Center filed a complaint in May on behalf of Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Gerard M. Jarzynka, Kent County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher R. Becker, Right to Life of Michigan, and the Michigan Catholic Conference asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to take control of the case Planned Parenthood of Michigan v. Attorney General of the State of Michigan and order the lower court to dismiss it after that court glaringly exceeded its jurisdiction.

“Michigan’s elected officials have a duty to uphold and defend the law, and protect the lives of the unborn,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life. “Today’s ruling by the Court of Appeals is a major step forward in allowing the county prosecutors to do their job and enforce the state law that protects children and mothers, even if the attorney general refuses to do so.”

The court order stated that “although the injunction purports to enjoin anyone acting under the Attorney General’s control and supervision, MCL 14.30 does not give the Attorney General ‘control’ over county prosecutors.”

In the case, involving a 1931 state law that protects unborn lives, Planned Parenthood and Attorney General Dana Nessel both argued that the statute should be invalidated. The Court of Claims judge in the case, who represented Planned Parenthood before ascending to the bench and made annual contributions to the abortion giant, declined to dismiss the lawsuit as would have been appropriate, since both sides favor the same outcome. Instead, without any briefing defending the law or even a hearing on the substance of the case, she issued a sweeping order finding that the Michigan Constitution likely creates a right to abortion and suggesting that prosecuting attorneys are barred from enforcing the law, even though they are not parties to the lawsuit and never presented any arguments in the case.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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