Michigan’s Whitmer signs Reproductive Health Act easing restrictions on abortion

Legislation enacts voter-approved Proposal 3 into law, which enshrines a right to abortion within the Michigan Constitution.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer talks upcoming presidential elections

Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the Reproductive Health Act into law.

The bills include Senate Bills 474, 476, and 477, and House Bills 4951, 4953, 4954, 4955, and 4956.

Whitmer will sign HB 4949 later. The package of bills repeals statutes that might have criminalized some acts by nurses and doctors, forced health care providers to close, raised costs for patients, and restricted access to abortion.

The bills enact voter-approved Proposal 3 into law, which enshrines a right to abortion within the Michigan Constitution.

“The Reproductive Health Act lowers costs for patients and providers and protects every Michigander’s constitutional right to make their own decisions about their own body,” Whitmer said in a statement. “For decades, Michigan has had politically motivated, medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion in state law. These politically motivated, medically unnecessary laws criminalized doctors for providing medical care, jacked up out-of-pocket costs for patients, and imposed needless regulations on health centers, forcing many to close.”

The bills will repeal Michigan laws which include rules about hallway width, ceiling heights, HVAC systems, and janitor’s closets, repeal a 1931 statute that could criminalize nurses and doctors for prescribing medication abortion including mifepristone, and repeal the law that forced patients to buy a separate insurance rider for abortion.

Speaker Pro Tem Laurie Pohutsky, D-Livonia, welcomed the bill signing.

“This journey began over a decade ago, and I am honored to be a part of the continued efforts to guarantee Michiganders have access to abortion care,” Pohutsky said in a statement. “It was long past due for these obstacles to be diminished so people can make the decisions that are right for them without government interference."

The bills also ensure Michigan public universities provide what the state considers accurate information about all reproductive health options.

“Abortion is legal, but what type of right is it if you cannot access it? These bills address that obstacle, and give the power back to our people more comprehensively,“ Rep. Felicia Brabec, D-Pittsfield Township, said in a statement. “It is a happy day for reproductive health rights as this legislation becomes law. We not only strengthened our reproductive health care, but we gave Michiganders more peace of mind, because, here at the Capitol, we have their backs and know that their reproductive rights must be protected.”

This month, Right-to-Life and other Michiganders have sued to challenge the amendment.

The lawsuit says the abortion right “causes great harm to pregnant women (and others) as a class by exempting them from the legal protections afforded to other classes of individuals in violation of the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment.”