Michigan Governor Whitmer Signs Landmark Reproductive Health Act, Repealing Abortion Restrictions

Michigan Governor Whitmer Signs Landmark Reproductive Health Act, Repealing Abortion Restrictions

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer repealed several abortion restrictions on Tuesday by signing a “Reproductive Health Act.” This act was introduced to ensure abortion access after the right to abortions was enshrined in the state constitution last year.

During a bill signing ceremony in Livonia, Whitmer expressed her excitement for finally resolving this issue after years of work. Supporters at the event wore pink blazers and the conference room was adorned with signs advocating for reproductive rights.

The signing of this act removed burdensome regulations for abortion clinics, making it easier to open more clinics in Michigan. Additionally, the legislation repealed a state law that prohibited higher education institutions’ pregnant and parenting services offices from providing referrals for abortion services.

Whitmer also announced her intention to soon sign another measure that eliminates the requirement for private insurance holders or their employers to purchase an optional rider specifically for abortion coverage.

However, Whitmer was unable to repeal Michigan’s 24-hour waiting period for abortions and the ban on Medicaid funding for the procedure. State Rep. Karen Whitsett, a Democrat from Detroit, opposed these proposals, which ultimately derailed them in the state House.

State Sen. Sarah Anthony, who played a key role in passing the Reproductive Health Act, emphasized that the voters’ decision last year to pass Proposal 3, which enshrined abortion rights, was instrumental in making this progress possible. She also credited the Democratic majorities in the state legislature for supporting abortion rights.

Despite the achievements, Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, the bill sponsor, expressed disappointment that certain restrictions remain in place. However, she assured supporters that future legislative action would be taken to protect abortion access.

Dr. Sarah Wallet, chief medical operating officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan, echoed Pohutsky’s sentiments, expressing disappointment that some restrictions remained intact. Nevertheless, she considered the bill signing a significant step forward.

Abortion rights advocates have long advocated for a Reproductive Health Act to ensure meaningful access to abortion in Michigan. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has called for this legislation, emphasizing the need to provide Michiganders with both legal rights and meaningful access to reproductive freedom.

Whitmer actively campaigned for the Reproductive Health Act by holding roundtable discussions across the state. While not all of her requests were met, some progress was made. However, abortion rights groups criticized Whitsett for not supporting the elimination of the ban on Medicaid coverage and the 24-hour waiting period, stating that it would continue to hinder access to abortion care for many.

It is worth noting that prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, Michigan could have enforced a 1931 abortion ban. However, a lawsuit temporarily blocked its implementation. Ultimately, the voters had the final say when they approved an amendment to the state constitution, establishing a fundamental right to reproductive freedom, including the right to an abortion.

Jennifer Ornesti, a former Planned Parenthood employee, campaigned for Proposal 3 during the 2022 election. Inspired by her experience, she changed careers and now works in the office of a Democratic state representative in Lansing. Despite some remaining restrictions, she celebrated the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, acknowledging that progress had been made.

For more information, contact Clara Hendrickson at chendrickson@freepress.com or 313-296-5743. You can also follow her on Twitter @clarajanehen.

(This article was originally published on the Detroit Free Press website with the title “Whitmer repeals Michigan abortion restrictions.”)