The RHA is a step forward for reproductive freedom in Michigan, but with two significant provisions removed from the final bill package, vulnerable Michiganders will still lack access
Lansing, Mich. – Today, the Michigan House passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). The bill package will now advance to Governor Whitmer’s desk to be signed into law. Planned Parenthood of Michigan applauds State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, State Sen. Sarah Anthony and other champions in the state legislature for passing the RHA and repealing several harmful barriers to abortion care.
The RHA will repeal Michigan’s Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (known as TRAP laws) that have caused an abortion access crisis in West and Northern Michigan, repeal restrictions on private insurance for abortion, allow students at public universities to access information about all of their reproductive health options, and remove other harmful laws from Michigan’s books. However, the loss of two key provisions of the RHA – Medicaid coverage for abortion care and the repeal of the mandated 24-hour delay in care – leave dangerous restrictions in place that directly impact patients and disproportionately harm Black and Brown communities, low-income people, and rural Michiganders, worsening health care equity statewide.
“Today’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act is an important step forward for Michiganders, but sadly, only an incremental one. While we are grateful that Michigan’s TRAP laws will finally be repealed, making it less burdensome for abortion providers to expand into areas of the state that need them most, I am deeply disappointed that some of the worst restrictions that directly target my patients will remain on our law books,” said Dr. Sarah Wallett, Chief Medical Operating Office of Planned Parenthood of Michigan. “Every single day, I see patients who have struggled to pull together needed funds because Medicaid won’t cover their care. Every single day, we have to cancel and reschedule appointments because of insignificant clerical errors in state-mandated paperwork. This is not reproductive freedom.”
At Planned Parenthood of Michigan, an average of 150 patients are forced to cancel their appointments each month due to Michigan’s state mandated 24-hour delay law. The deliberately onerous restriction forces patients to review biased information on a state website and print off materials in a very specific timeframe. If the patient is unable to access the internet and a printer, forgets their paperwork, or is just outside of the required time window, they must cancel their appointment. With some areas booking out appointments weeks in advance, this means that some patients are severely delayed in care or may not be able to reschedule.
Research also shows that bans on Medicaid coverage for abortion act as de facto abortion bans for people with low incomes. One study found that Medicaid coverage bans force 1 in 4 women who qualify for Medicaid to continue unintended pregnancies against their will.
“Michiganders made themselves loud and clear last year when they turned out in record numbers to pass the Reproductive Freedom for All ballot measure. Today’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act is an important step forward in bringing Michigan’s law books into alignment with the will of Michigan voters, but it falls short of providing true reproductive freedom for all Michiganders,” said Paula Thornton Greear, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan. “Bans on Medicaid coverage for abortion and state mandated waiting periods result in a system where people with money and resources can exercise their Constitutional rights, but care is pushed out of reach for those who are struggling the most. Planned Parenthood of Michigan will remain laser focused on removing these inequitable, unconstitutional barriers to care and we will use all the tools at our disposal to make it happen. In the meantime, we will continue to offer assistance and provide abortion care to everyone who is relying on us. ”
“Michiganders deserve the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures. Passing the Reproductive Health Act is an essential part of making sure that medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion are removed, and people can get the care they need,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “But we know our work does not end here. We will continue our fight to expand abortion access in the state and are prepared to fight on every front to eliminate the harmful and discriminatory barriers to care that remain on the books in Michigan, including waiting periods, the ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion, and more.”
Planned Parenthood offers affordable reproductive health care for all people through medical services, education and advocacy and is the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider. Planned Parenthood of Michigan operates health centers across the state, providing medical services and sexuality education for nearly 60,000 Michiganders each year.