The Michigan legislature has advanced a legislative package eliminating various restrictions on abortions in the state.
On Wednesday, the Michigan House passed a package of abortion-related bills dubbed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). House Democrats declared in a press release that the package repealed legislation that was “medically unnecessary and harmful,” as well as unfairly targeting abortion providers. Democratic State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky — Speaker Pro Tem and chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus — declared that America has entered “a new era” concerning abortion.
“Quite frankly, I hope the passage of the RHA makes it clear that when it comes to what people can and cannot do regarding their reproductive health — it’s nobody’s business but that of the patient and their team of medical professionals,” said Pohutsky.
The package declares a fundamental right to reproductive freedom, including “abortion care.” The sole provision allowing an abortion restriction after fetal viability was undermined by the allowance of any health care professional to decide that an abortion would be necessary to protect the life or physical or mental health of the mother, or “well-being.” The bill declared that relevant factors for well-being included age, family, or the physical, emotional, or psychological states of the mother.
Further, the package rescinds the ban on partial-birth abortions, restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion, licensure requirements of abortion providers, and restrictions on public universities from providing referrals for abortion services.
Some Democratic leaders and activists complained the final RHA didn’t go far enough.
Opposition from Democratic Rep. Karen Whitsett resulted in lawmakers dropping several provisions from the RHA: the repeal of the required 24-hour waiting period for obtaining an abortion, and the ability to use Medicaid funding to obtain an abortion.
In a joint statement led by the ACLU of Michigan, pro-abortion activists called Whitsett “foolhardy” for opposing the two provisions. The activist groups insisted that stopping short of taxpayer-funded, immediate abortions would result in significantly fewer women obtaining abortions, namely black or brown, working class, rural, and “other marginalized” women.
“Without eliminating the Medicaid abortion ban and the 24-hour mandated delay, access to abortion care will remain out of reach for too many across our state,” said the groups.
We are grateful that the Michigan House passed the Reproductive Health Act, which will remove several barriers to abortion access.
— ACLU of Michigan (@ACLUofMichigan) November 2, 2023
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer acknowledged that the RHA didn’t include all desired provisions, but chalked it up as a win overall for abortion supporters.
“We went from almost losing access to abortion completely, to fighting to keep it legal, to now making it more accessible to millions of Michigan women,” said Whitmer. “There’s still a lot of work to do. We need more done to protect and expand access for our most vulnerable communities and communities of color.”
Michigan, something amazing is happening here, and I need to tell you about it!
We're making MAJOR moves when it comes to reproductive freedom. It's not easy to convey just how big this is, but I'm gonna try. 🧵
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) November 2, 2023
In April, Whitmer signed legislation repealing the state’s total ban on abortion. The repeal was prompted by the Supreme Court ruling last year overturning Roe v. Wade.
The next month, Whitmer signed a law prohibiting employers from discriminating against their female employees who obtained an abortion.
Michigan voters approved a ballot measure, Proposal 3, declaring a constitutional right to an abortion last year.