LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A 10-bill package to expand access to abortion care passed the Michigan House late Wednesday.
Advocates say the legislation is a “move in the right direction,” but bemoan some items that were negotiated from the package.
The combination of bills is collectively called the Reproductive Health Act. They come nearly a year after Michigan voters placed constitutional protections for abortion and other similar health care in the state constitution.
Dr. Rob Davidson is a physician and executive director of the Committee to Protect Healthcare.
“The access to abortion care was somewhat limited, they put up barriers in the face of Roe v. Wade being the law of the land,” he tells 6 News. “And once Roe fell, those barriers became more of an issue – even with the passage of Prop 3. “
Proposal 3 amended the state constitution last November. It enshrined abortion access in the state’s governing document. Davidson says barriers to access to care remain.
The legislation included allowing universities and colleges to add referrals to abortion services with other health and parenting resources provided to students.
Another piece of legislation would prevent insurance companies from opting out of covering abortion care.
Democratic State Sen. Sarah Anthony says she supported the bills but believes more work is needed.
“Lowering financial barriers and that we have adequate time for individuals to make these decisions,” Anthony says. “These are things that will save people’s lives.”
Despite the advances, some groups like Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and the ACLU of Michigan have blasted Democratic State Rep. Karen Whitsett for her failure to support aspects of the legislation. They argue her amendment to remove a 24-hour mandatory delay for abortion appointments and lifting a ban on Medicaid funding for the procedure were adopted to gain her support for the rest of the package.
Whitsett did not respond to repeated requests for comment by 6 News.
Republican State Rep. Gina Johnsen says she’s glad to see some abortion restrictions remain on the book. She pushed back against loosening other restrictions.
“If women are really gonna be treated well, why wouldn’t we protect them?” she tells 6 News. “Why does this part of the medical world get a carve-out.”
Genevieve Marnon is the legislative director of Right to Life of Michigan. She says the legislation that was passed is disappointing. But she says the Right to Life movement will continue.
“The pro-life movement is strong and it’s not going away,” she tells 6 News.
Pro-Life activists are expected to march on the state capitol lawn on Nov. 8. The Reproductive Health Act is headed to the state senate.