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County prosecutors could begin pressing criminal charges against abortion providers

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 11:54:10-04

LANSING, Mich. — Here in mid-Michigan and in counties across the state, county prosecuting attorneys could start bringing criminal charges against abortion providers.

That's despite an injunction in place against enforcing the state's 1931 abortion law.

Prosecuting attorneys in Eaton, Jackson and Ingham counties tell me the injuction is too narrow, and it only applies to the state and not the county prosecutors. In short, that means they could start prosecuting abortion providers, but it's up to them and their interpretation of the law if they do.

“Because Roe v. Wade has been overturned, that law is in force," said Doug Lloyd, the prosecuting attorney for Eaton County.

“It was a law that was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. So it's an avowedly enacted law. So that's the law," said Jerry Jarzynka, the prosecuting attorney for Jackson County. "My position is to follow the law.“

“I don't believe that justice would be served by prosecuting abortion cases," said Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon.

All three prosecuting attorneys said that the injunction– the court case in front of the Michigan Supreme court, which was supposed to place a pause on the 1931 abortion law from taking effect, is too narrow.

“It's my opinion that the preliminary injunction by the Court of Claims judge does not apply to me or any other county prosecutor in the state because we were never part of that lawsuit," Jarzynka said. "Typically a jurisdiction in cases the court has jurisdiction over the parties in that case. So not being a party to the case, not subject to any order or directive by a judge that's issued in that case.”

But that doesn’t mean abortion providers will be locked up tomorrow, according to Doug Lloyd who spoke to me in his capacity as president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

“Now, in order for that law to actually be enforced, takes several measures. First, you have to have a complaint, and then you have to have that complaint and actually file a report with the police department," Lloyd said.

Then, the local police have to investigate, determine if there has been a crime and turn over the case to the county prosecutor.

“And so, I believe really at this time that most prosecutors are proceeding slowly in regards to how this may affect them going forward," he said.

Here in Ingham County, Prosecutor Carol Siemon tells me that she will not be prosecuting doctors who perform abortions, but the uncertainty could be enough to make providers close their doors or stop offering the procedure.

“The reality is, if there is not a positive outcome from the Michigan Supreme Court, most medical practitioners will probably stop providing this necessary service because they're at risk of losing their license or having a civil lawsuit," Siemon said.

FOX 47 also reached out to the prosecuting attorneys of Clinton and Hillsdale counties but did not hear back.

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