Michigan: Senate Dems pass bills to repeal 24-hour abortion wait time, absurdly strict clinic regs, more


Last month I noted that Michigan legislative Democrats were planning on passing a package of bills designed to repeal a bunch of restrictions on abortion & other reproductive healthcare:

Via Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press:

Dems to end 24-hour abortion waiting period, ban on Medicaid funding of procedure

LANSING — Michigan Democrats said Wednesday they will repeal laws that require a 24-hour waiting period to have an abortion performed, impose what they say are costly and unnecessary regulatory burdens on abortion clinics, prohibit abortions funded by Medicaid, and ban private health insurers from automatically covering abortions under standard policies.

The repeals, which will be grouped under a new Reproductive Health Act through an 11-bill package, are needed to ensure full implementation of Proposal 3, which voters approved last November to enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution, said Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, D-Livonia.

...The only significant abortion restriction Pohutsky identified that is not targeted for repeal is a law requiring parental consent before abortions can be performed on minors under age 18. Democrats were concerned including that piece might delay approval of the rest of the package, she said.

...Under another law targeted for repeal, the state prohibits private insurers from automatically paying for abortions. Instead, people must purchase separate “riders” to obtain such coverage, despite the fact the need for an abortion may not be anticipated in advance.

It has always been the "rape insurance rider" one which I find the most disturbing. As I noted when it was first passed by the then-Republican controlled legislature in 2014:

Last December, the Michigan Republican Party passed a revolting law which legally prevents any health insurance plan sold in the state from covering abortion except in cases where the woman's life is in danger. Every single Republican in the state Senate and House voted for it, along with (I'm ashamed to say) 3 "Democrats":

The law, which takes effect in March, will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest.

This means, in effect, that since March 13, any woman who needs an abortion has to either pay for it herself or has to buy a separate "abortion rider" to cover the cost, even if she becomes pregnant from being raped.

The House version of the Reproductive Healthcare Act of 2023 is still on hold as there's a single Democratic holdout (Dems only have a 2-vote majority in the state House), but the Senate version just passed yesterday. Via Bridge Michigan:

LANSING – Democrats in the Michigan Senate voted Thursday to repeal a series of abortion regulations despite strenuous Republican objections and an uncertain future for the bills in the House. 

The package, approved in a series of party-line votes, would eliminate a 24-hour waiting period for abortions in Michigan and repeal strict facility regulations for abortion clinics, among other things. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Democratic lawmakers and abortion providers contend those rules, approved by prior Republican-led Legislatures, are medically unnecessary and designed to limit abortion access.

...Republicans uniformly opposed the repeals, arguing they will take the state far beyond abortion access protections added to the Michigan Constitution last year when voters approved ballot Proposal 3. 

...However, Senate Democrats abandoned some bills they had introduced as part of the package approved Thursday, including a proposal that would have allowed state-funded abortions through Medicaid insurance. 

(sigh) That's a shame, although I don't think it would have required Medicaid to cover abortion, just allowed it. I could be wrong about that, but it's apparently moot now.

The measures, now head to the House, where they face roadblocks.

Democrats hold a two-seat majority in the lower chamber and need every vote to pass a bill. One Democrat, Rep. Karen Whitsett of Detroit, has already publicly announced her support for the 24-hour waiting period the legislation would repeal. 

The 1994 informed consent law requires women to wait 24 hours after seeking an abortion from a medical provider, who must first give her "accurate information" about abortion and "alternatives."

Karen Whitsett is the same state legislator who hawked a junk "cure" for COVID a couple of years back, then actually tried suing Gov. Whitmer for being disappointed in her for doing so, for what it's worth. She later dropped the lawsuit.

In any event, the bills which passed the MI Senate appear to be: