Bills would make Michigan abortion haven
Now that abortion rights are enshrined in the state constitution, Democrats should deliver on the promises made before Proposal 3 was passed last fall — to recreate the abortion environment that existed under Roe v. Wade, prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.
That is what Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said was the goal during her campaign for reelection and to get Prop 3 passed.
“What we have works,” she told The Detroit News Editorial Board about Michigan’s standing abortion regulations.
But now, Democrats in Lansing are trying to make the abortion environment in Michigan far more permissive than it has ever been by removing a slew of current regulations.
That includes lifting restrictions on certain abortion procedures, repealing informed consent requirements that protect the health and safety of women seeking abortions, and ending restrictions on using taxpayer dollars to fund elective abortions, among other things.
Supporters of the bills argue that the existing laws are unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers and regulating access to the procedure conflicts with the guaranteed right to an abortion under the new law.
But in 2022, the overall number of abortions in Michigan remained stable, with some reports that demand fell significantly. Meanwhile, abortions for out-of-state patients increased 66%.
That doesn’t indicate a lack of access.
Democrats should stick to the promises they made to get Prop 3 passed.
The Reproductive Health Act doesn’t do that. Most notably, it would repeal a mandate that doctors screen women for signs of coercion before an abortion and that they ensure patients sign a form 24 hours ahead of an abortion attesting they’ve read information on the procedure, potential complications and the gestational age of the fetus.
Women considering an abortion should understand the totality of what they are about to experience. Verifying that information has been communicated from an abortion provider to a patient doesn’t represent an undue burden on reproductive rights.
The legislation would irresponsibly repeal requirements that doctors report abortions and any complications or deaths resulting from the procedure to the state, and eliminate guidelines around the disposal of fetal remains.
It also would allow public funding, such as Medicaid, to cover all abortions, including those that are elective.
Removing these restrictions would be an offense to the long-standing protections Michigan taxpayers have had from having to pay for elective abortions.
It’s not a policy Michigan voters were informed of during the Prop 3 campaign, nor one they necessarily support.
Democratic lawmakers have made it clear that parental notification is the next regulation on the chopping block, should this legislation pass. Again, that was something Whitmer specifically said she would not back.
The Legislature also must deal with reinstalling limits on late-term abortions.
There may be provisions of the legislation that make sense, and any provisions that are clearly punitive should be removed piecemeal.
Passing this bill package would make Michigan one of the most permissive states for abortion in the country. That’s not what Michigan residents were told they were voting for when they passed Prop 3.
— The Detroit News