MACOMB COUNTY, Michigan — Renee Chelian was on the first vacation she’d taken since Roe‘s reversal when she learned one of the abortion clinics she operates was suddenly under legal threat. First, Chelian called her attorneys. Next, a conference call with her doctors. “The patients are with, they don’t know what to do — are they going to get their abortions today?” the doctors relayed. Terrified, too, were the clinic staff, concerned they would be charged for providing abortions under a 91-year-old law that hadn’t been enforced for nearly 50 years.
Abortion rights have been protected in Michigan at the state level since April, when a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood, anticipating the fall of Roe, stalled enforcement of a 1931 state law that banned the practice. The three locations of Northland Family Planning Center, Chelian’s operation, hummed along under that decision, assuring visitors to its homepage that “abortion is still legal in Michigan under a court order.” But on August 1, a Michigan court ruled that injunction did not apply to county prosecutors. And one of Northland’s locations sat in a brick building on the western edge of Macomb County, where the Republican prosecutor, Peter Lucido, had for months been promising to charge providers with the felonies that law carried. “All laws of the state that have not been repealed will be enforced by the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office,” he wrote on Facebook the evening Roe fell.
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By noon that day, Chelian closed Northland’s Macomb County location and rescheduled as many patients as possible at her other clinics outside the county. “We’ll go wherever we’re needed to go,” the doctors promised — but not before they’d spoken with Chelian’s lawyers, to be reasonably sure they