Reproductive Health Act repealing some abortion restrictions passes in Michigan, heads to governor

It comes a year after the state voted to enshrine abortion in the constitution.

November 8, 2023, 3:50 PM

Michigan lawmakers have passed a series of 9 bills repealing certain abortion restrictions, which are now headed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's desk.

The package, called the Reproductive Health Act, aims to help increase access to abortion that may have remained unavailable or inaccessible in some parts of the state.

It comes a year after Michiganders voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposal 3 (Prop 3), which enshrined abortion rights in the state's constitution.

The new bills, which passed the state House last week and the state Senate Tuesday, repealed a law requiring the patient to receive information on abortion provided by the state, such as depiction of a fetus, and allowing residents to sue if their right to an abortion is infringed under Prop 3.

The legislation also requires private insurance companies to provide coverage for all pregnancy-related health care, including abortion, through an optional rider and removed some regulations for clinics that provide abortion that could cause them to close if they are not met.

Abortion-rights supporters stage a counter protest during the 50th annual March for Life rally on the National Mall on Jan. 20, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

However, due to pushback from some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, two provisions of the RHA did not pass. The first was overturning the requirement that patients wait 24 hours between seeking an abortion and receiving the procedure and the second was removing a ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion care.

The ACLU of Michigan said in a press release that not eliminating these barriers would make it difficult for marginalized groups including Black and brown people, working class residents and rural residents to access abortion.

In a statement to WPBN-TV, Whitmer praised the passage of the RHA as progress and in line with what residents voted for last November.

"Michiganders spoke loud and clear in the last election when they voted overwhelmingly to protect the constitutional freedom for people to make their own decisions about their bodies," Whitmer said in a statement. "For years, Michigan has had politically motivated and medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion on the books."

"These laws criminalized doctors for providing medical care, jacked up out of pocket health care costs, and imposed needless regulations on health centers. This legislation makes important steps toward expanding access and protecting our personal freedoms. We will continue to take action to ensure that Michiganders can access the reproductive health care they deserve," the statement continued.

Last year, Michigan voters said yes to an amendment, Prop 3, that would add protections for reproductive rights and enshrine them in the state's constitution.

The amendment defines reproductive freedom as "the right to make and carry out pregnancy-related decisions uch as those concerning prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management, and infertility care."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on May 4, 2023 in National Harbor, Md.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images, FILE

On Wednesday, Right to Life Michigan and 15 other plaintiffs announced they filed a lawsuit in federal court to overturn several elements of Prop 3. They are asking for a permanent injunction, claiming the proposal is unconstitutional.

"Earlier this morning, a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of central elements of Proposal 3," the group said in a statement. "The provisions asserted to be unconstitutional under federal law threaten legal protections for pregnant women seeking healthcare, the rights of physicians to care for patients, and the rights of parents already under attack on many fronts."

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