Democrats nationwide latched onto Kansas’ resounding affirmation of abortion rights as a sign of good things to come. The first referendum on abortion in a post-Roe America, Kansas is seen as a bellwether of voter opinion on the issue heading into the November midterms. The vote was a major win for abortion rights advocates in the state. But in Kansas it remains to be seen whether their momentum will translate to Democratic wins in November when the party will attempt to break up the Republican supermajority in the Legislature and re-elect Gov. Laura Kelly and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids. Democra...
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An Oakland County judge has ruled that an injunction on the state’s abortion ban will remain in effect, preventing local prosecutors from enforcing a 1931 law which prohibits doctors in Michigan from performing any abortions except to save the life of the “pregnant woman.”
Circuit Court Judge Jacob Cunningham issued the ruling Friday after two days of oral arguments, saying that while “injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy… as currently applied, the court finds [the 1931 abortion law] is chilling and dangerous to our state’s population of childbearing people and the medical professionals who care for them.”
“A person carrying a child has a right to bodily autonomy and integrity, as well as a safe doctor-patient relationship as they have been able to do so for the past 50 years,” Cunningham said. “Weaponizing the criminal law against providers to force pregnancy on our state’s women is simply contrary to the notion of due process, equal protection, and bodily autonomy in this court’s eyes.”
Republican prosecutors in Macomb, Jackson and Kent counties had sought to enforce the law.
“There is precisely zero harm to the defendants by granting a preliminary injunction,” he said.
“The court suggests county prosecutors focus their attention and resources … to investigation and prosecution of criminal sexual conduct, homicide, arson, child and elder abuse, animal cruelty and other violent and horrific crimes that we see in our society,” Cunningham added.
Cunningham also noted that a reproductive rights constitutional amendment was likely to appear on the ballot in November, which would invalidate the 1931 law. He also said the 91-year-old law raised broad questions of equal protection and bodily autonomy.
“The court briefly questions, for purposes of example only, what would the argument surrounding an equal protection, liberty, bodily autonomy and bodily integrity argument that would be presented should mandatory vasectomy be at issue today in lieu of child gestation and birth,” he said. “What if men were required to be unable, by statute and threat of criminality to seed children until they could satisfy to their medical professional they were capable to assist the raising and nurturing the education of a child?”
He also said that the witnesses who testified on behalf of the state, Dr. Lisa Harris, an obstetrician-gynecologist and associate director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Michigan Michigan Medicine, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state’s chief medical officer, and Dr. Diana Nordlund, were “extremely credible in their testimony,” in detailing the great risk of harm that would be created for women if the injunction were lifted.
Bagdasarian testified Wednesday that the 1931 abortion ban could worsen Michigan’s public health outcomes, widen disparities for populations across the state, especially for Black women, and impact victims of rape and incest.
“Every year, 12 to 15 women die each year due to pregnancy-related causes in Michigan,” Bagdasarian said. “By subjecting women to carry pregnancies in a forced manner, we are subjecting them to potentially negative health outcomes if they are not choosing it themselves.”
As to the witnesses for the defense, Priscilla Coleman, a researcher on the mental health impacts of abortion on women, and Dr. Gianina Cazan-London, an OB-GYN at McLaren Health Hospital System, Cunningham questioned their medical expertise, saying Coleman’s “credibility was seriously called into question and her statistics and conclusions of her testimony revealed unhelpful and biased information.”
As to Cazan-London, the judge said she had been “significantly discredited in the court’s mind regarding a personal bias in this area,” for her “inability… to acknowledge from the court’s perspective, the impact of rape and a subsequent pregnancy on a victim.”
The ruling was hailed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who had sought the injunction.
“I am grateful for this ruling that will protect women and ensure nurses and doctors can keep caring for their patients without fear of prosecution,” said Whitmer. “I am particularly grateful to Attorney General Dana Nessel and her team for their work on behalf of the state. The lack of legal clarity about abortion in Michigan has already caused far too much confusion for women who deserve certainty about their health care, and hardworking medical providers who should be able to do their jobs without worrying about being thrown behind bars.
“Once, over the course of a single day, abortion was legal in the morning, illegal around lunch time, and legal in the evening. We cannot have this kind of whiplash about something as fundamental as a woman’s right to control her own body. Michigan women are understandably scared and angry, and they deserve better than being treated as second class citizens.”
Nessel, a Democrat, also touted the decision.
“Abortion is critical healthcare,” she said. “Uncertainty around the law has a chilling effect on the conduct of doctors and therefore limits access to care for Michigan women. Maintaining access to reproductive healthcare is absolutely necessary for the health and well-being of women and it is our duty to ensure that access for the roughly two million women of reproductive age who call Michigan home. Absent this preliminary injunction, physicians face a very real threat of prosecution depending on where they practice. There is no doubt that the statue criminalizing abortion is in direct conflict with the ability of the medical community to provide the standard of care consistent with their education, training, expertise and oath.”
Right to Life of Michigan slammed Whitmer after the decision came out.
“Not very surprising. Governor Whitmer is bringing this case because they have never had the votes to change Michigan’s abortion law, and doubt they will have the votes in November to add abortion into our constitution. She doesn’t really believe in democracy,” the group tweeted.
The decision follows a flurry of court activity on abortion in Michigan in recent months.
When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, abortion access in Michigan was protected by an injunction placed on the state’s 1931 abortion ban in May by Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher.
Cases before both the Michigan Court of Appeals and Michigan Supreme Court could end up overturning or reinforcing Gleicher’s injunction.
A person carrying a child has a right to bodily autonomy and integrity, as well as a safe doctor-patient relationship as they have been able to do so for the past 50 years. Weaponizing the criminal law against providers to force pregnancy on our state's women is simply contrary to the notion of due process, equal protection, and bodily autonomy in this court's eyes.
– Oakland County Circuit Judge Jacob Cunningham
But until those decisions are issued, which could be at any time, several Republican county prosecutors had argued that the injunction prohibits them from doing their job and took the issue to the state Court of Appeals, which ruled earlier this month that county prosecutors are exempt from the injunction.
That same day, however, Whitmer asked the Oakland County Circuit Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent county-level decisions on abortion access. By evening, Judge Cunningham then granted that request and later ruled to keep the TRO in place.
Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit was among a group of seven Democratic prosecutors who argued on behalf of the state. Following today’s ruling, Savit told Michigan Advance it was a complete victory for those seeking to protect reproductive freedoms in Michigan.
“The court ruled in our favor on both the major legal arguments that we made in this case, under the Michigan Due Process clause and under the Equal Protection clause,” said Savit. “And he also gave a very good, thorough and detailed ruling about the harms that this would cause to women and pregnant people, as well as doctors and providers, and really the populous of Michigan as a whole. So, you know, it couldn’t have gone any better.”
Savit added that Cunningham’s ruling was the correct interpretation of why the injunction was sought in the first place.
“I think what he was saying is, ‘Look, two things are true,’” he said. “No. 1, this is just preserving the status quo that has existed in this state for a half century and there is no harm to preserving the status quo. Second, that with respect to the ballot initiative, the people are going to have an opportunity to weigh in on this. And so it makes sense to preserve that half century old status quo as the people are considering whether to vote on that amendment.”
Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: email@example.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.
Dr. Mehmet Oz’s U.S. Senate campaign in the key swing state of Pennsylvania has not been going well. Some polls show his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, with a double-digit lead, and Oz has been inundated with brutal mockery in response to a shopping video that was meant to disparage President Joe Biden and other Democrats but, according to critics, misfired badly. Fetterman, in fact, has fundraised more than $500,000 from Oz’s widely ridiculed “crudité” video.
MAGA Republicans have been hoping to find a way to derail Fetterman’s campaign. One of them is Steve Bannon, host of the “War Room” podcast and former White House chief strategist in the Trump Administration. But Bannon’s line of attack is being slammed by critics as both ridiculous and desperate; Bannon is implying that Fetterman has a “satanic” appearance. Let's watch to see more.
In a Gettr post on Wednesday, Bannon shared an article from the right-wing Washington Free Beacon. The article showed Fetterman’s family members next to someone dressed as an animé character and claimed that Fetterman was part of a “Democratic grooming scandal.”
“Is Fetterman satanic??" Bannon wrote. "His look, his vibe, his associations ... has there been anyone in the history of the country that exudes more just pure evil than this guy.... the Citizens of the Commonwealth need to ask themselves — do we want someone who hangs with Satanic Groomers to represent us in the US Senate."
When Bannon’s Gettr post was shared on Twitter — a platform that the onetime Trump aide was banned from after saying that Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Chris Wray should be beheaded — he was blasted with ridicule and mockery.
“Pretty sure when Steve Bannon calls you ‘satanic’ that means you are winning,” Florida-based attorney Ron Filipkowski tweeted.
Journalist James Surowiecki remarked, “To me, this just seems like clunky, self-evidently false nonsense from Bannon, and it really shows is how Republicans are scrambling to find a line of attack against Fetterman…. Fetterman ‘exudes pure evil’ is so distant from reality that it has no force.”
Another Twitter user, Seth Daire, posted, “That's not even subtle QAnon rhetoric by Bannon, which dehumanizes and demonizes those they scapegoat. Also, have you seen Bannon's look, his vibe, his associations?”
Daire posited that Bannon and other MAGA Republicans on the far right promote violence when they traffic in conspiracy theories.
“For those who asked, Satanic Groomers aligns with ideas central to Pizzagate and QAnon, and by framing his opposition that way, it dehumanizes and demonizes, which makes it easier for them to justify violence and harassment," he said in another tweet. "Bannon has QAnon followers, even though he isn't QAnon.”
Writer Mark Russell tweeted, “Says the guy who perpetually looks like he just stepped out of a panel van to buy duct tape.”
With Alex Henderson.
"The man in charge of the House GOP’s campaign strategy has been doling out advice to Republican candidates and incumbents in key battleground races as they prepare for the general election: Don’t be distracted by Donald Trump on the campaign trail, and instead focus on the issues Republicans believe will be most salient to voters in the midterms," CNN's Melanie Zanona reported Friday. "The guidance from Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, relayed by three GOP sources familiar with the internal conversations, reflects a tacit acknowledgment among Republican leaders that the former president could knock the GOP’s midterm messaging off course as they seek to recapture the House majority this fall."
Many of the same candidates embraced Trump in the midterms as he backed election-denying GOP hopefuls.
"A spokesman for Emmer said the National Republican Congressional Committee chairman has indeed counseled candidates to focus on the issues that matter to voters, like inflation, crime and the border, but emphasized that Trump is not on the ballot this fall and therefore has not been a focus during their strategy discussions," CNN reported. "But Emmer’s recommendation may be increasingly tough to follow, especially if Trump announces a presidential run before the midterms – something Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, are desperate to avoid. GOP leaders want the midterms to be a referendum on President Joe Biden and the Democrats, not Trump, even though the former president relishes in being the topic of conversation."
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is openly warning that the GOP may not win the Senate in 2022.
For analysis, CNN's Alisyn Camerota interviewed former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL).
he joins us now, he's the host of the white flag podcast. joe, great to see you. s
"So as we know, Sen. Mitch McConnell chooses his words very carefully," Camerota noted. "When he talks about the lack of or basically — let me be clear, when he says that the GOP may not win the Senate because of the candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome, what's he saying in plain English?"
"He's saying that the Republicans are in real trouble, Alisyn, in taking back control of the Senate," Walsh replied.
"I mean, people like J.D. Vance in Ohio is an election denier," Walsh explained. "Blake Masters in Arizona is an election denier, Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, an election denier. Republicans are nominating, they've nominated election deniers all over the country. These folks shouldn't do well in a general election."
Donald Trump 2022 Midterms www.youtube.com