Gov. Whitmer Signs Reproductive Healthcare Act

Matthew Donnellon
Photo byCity of Detroit (Wikimedia Commons)

This week Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a legislative package dubbed the Reproductive Health Act. The law will increase access to reproductive care.

Whitmer released a statement in September when the bills were passed.

“Today, we took an important step forward on the Reproductive Health Act, commonsense legislation to repeal politically motivated, medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion that criminalize doctors providing medical care, jack up out of pocket health care costs, and impose needless regulations on health centers,” she said in the release. 

“Michiganders voted overwhelmingly to put abortion rights in our state constitution back in November. We must ensure that they can access the reproductive health care they need without delay, without paying high costs out of pocket, and without fear of prosecution for experiencing a miscarriage or a stillbirth.”

Whitmer signed the bills into law in a ceremony outside Detroit.

However, the act is missing some key pieces that advocates wanted included in the law.

Supporters for reproductive health wanted the 24 hour waiting period for an abortion removed, as well as allowing the state to pay for abortions.

Even with the missing parts the bill still provides more access to healthcare. The RHA will repeal certain regulations, called TRAP laws, that close abortion providers. The bill also makes sure that university students have access to information about their reproductive health as well as abolishing a law that made patients buy a separate insurance rider for an abortion.

Critics say that the stripped down bills didn’t go far enough to protect reproductive healthcare and women’s rights. 

Lawmakers said that the slim majority meant that compromise had to be made. 

One person's personal politics can still greatly impact what we are able to do,” said Democratic state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, the bills’ sponsor.

"Let's celebrate today, and tomorrow get back to work," Pohutsky said.

Women’s rights and reproductive health have been a main issue in Michigan after Roe v. Wade was overturned.. The state has been a national leader in enshrining individual rights to healthcare. 

Last Noever, Michigan voted for Prop3 which enshrined abortion rights into the state constitution. Also, the state repealed its 1931 abortion law. 

However, recently there has been some flagging of support of reproductive healthcare with Democratic state Rep. Karen Whitsett voted with Republicans in the committee phase. 

She was against removing the 24 hour waiting period. That’s why it was removed from the RHA in order to get Whitsett’s vote to pass the law. 

Abortion rights advocates slammed Whitsett in a statement.

"Thanks to one Michigan House member's foolhardy opposition to this critical legislation — this chamber just passed a watered-down version of the Reproductive Health Act that lacks key policy reforms that are both desperately needed and widely supported by voters across the state," the group said in a statement.

Whitsett said that she felt it would become an “Unregulated abortion environment.” Also she noted that the waiting period would “ensure that women are not being forced to abort their children."

Planned Parenthood notes that on average 150 patients are forced to cancel appointments because of the waiting period. 



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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI

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