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November 21, 2023    



Governor Whitmer Signs Reproductive Health Act 

RHA removes barriers to health care, lowers costs for independent providers, protects access to abortion 


LIVONIA, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) into law. The package of bills repeals politically motivated, medically unnecessary statutes that criminalized nurses and doctors, forced health care providers to close, raised costs for patients, and restricted access to abortion. The RHA builds on efforts to expand access to abortion in Michigan after the passage of Proposal 3 last November and the repeal of the state’s extreme 1931 abortion ban earlier this year. Governor Whitmer first called for passage of the RHA in the What’s Next Address, a first-of-its-kind speech delivered in August laying out a policy vision for the fall after the Michigan Legislature’s unprecedented productivity in 2023.   


“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,” said Governor Whitmer. “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 RHA repeals these laws, taking a huge step forward to expand access to health care and protect people’s personal freedoms.”  


Reproductive Health Act 


Repeals Michigan’s TRAP Laws, which are designed specifically to close abortion providers. These medically unnecessary and burdensome restrictions have nothing to do with a clinic’s ability to deliver care. They include rules about hallway width, ceiling heights, HVAC systems, and janitor’s closets. These restrictions jack up costs, especially for independent clinics, and have decreased the number of providers available to Michiganders, especially in Western and Northern Michigan.  


Repeals an old, outdated law from 1931 that would have criminalized nurses and doctors for prescribing medication abortion including mifepristone. Medication abortions are the most common way abortions are performed and have been safely used for decades. While other states restrict access to these pills, the passage of the RHA ensures Michigan providers and patients will have every option available. 


Ensures students at Michigan public universities have access to accurate information about all their reproductive health options. Young adults deserve the same medical choices that every other patient gets. For too long, students at Michigan universities could be denied access to information about their options—including abortion—depending on where they went to college.  


Repeals the law that forced patients to buy a separate insurance rider for abortion. Effectively, the law forced people to pay more out of pocket just in case they were assaulted. 


The bills in the RHA are: 

·         Senate Bill 474, sponsored by Senator Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) 

·         Senate Bill 476, sponsored by Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor)  

·         Senate Bill 477, sponsored by Senator Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford Township) 

·         House Bill 4951, sponsored by Representative Kara Hope (D-Holt) 

·         House Bill 4953, sponsored by Representative Christine Morse (D-Texas Township) 

·         House Bill 4954, sponsored by Representative Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township) 

·         House Bill 4955, sponsored by Representative Natalie Price (D-Berkley) 

·         House Bill 4956, sponsored by Representative Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) 

·         To be signed at a later date: House Bill 4949, sponsored by Representative Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) 


“By signing the Reproductive Health Act into law today, Michigan is sending a strong message that the right to reproductive healthcare will remain safe and accessible in our state for years to come,” said state Senator Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing). “By voting to enact Prop. 3 by an overwhelming margin, voters made it clear that the right to an abortion should be available and accessible to all of those who need it in our state. This legislation affirms that decision by removing politically motivated restrictions on the right to an abortion and putting power back in the hands of individuals to make their own healthcare decisions.” 


“The Reproductive Health Act ensures all Michiganders have access to reproductive healthcare unencumbered by other people’s deeply held beliefs,” said state Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor). “This legislation guarantees abortion is treated like all health care, with regulations that reflect current medical standards. The freedom to fully control our bodies, lives and futures is vital to all of us and Michiganders deserve the freedom to make their own medical decisions.” 


“Today should most certainly be celebrated; it took a lot of hard work to get these bills to the governor’s desk, and while there is still work to be done, we should absolutely take time to appreciate this victory,” said Speaker Pro Tem Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus and spearhead of the House RHA bills. “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. 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.” 


“Every Michigander deserves the right to not only make decisions for their own body, but have barrier-free access to the healthcare and resources they need to make informed choices,” said state Senator Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford Township). “The Reproductive Health Act is a critical protection of reproductive freedom for generations of Michiganders to come, and I am incredibly proud of this historic legislation.” 


“As the new majority, our work must include dismantling unnecessary barriers to reproductive healthcare. At the end of the day, reproductive healthcare is healthcare,” said state Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “For decades, restrictions were intentionally placed within Michigan’s laws and have impeded the process of affirming everyone’s right to reproductive freedom. These bills are based on scientific facts and are not informed by misguided opinions of a small demographic — they’re inclusive and representative of our state.” 


“As a practicing health care provider, I understand the importance of protecting access to reproductive health services, including abortion,” said state Representative Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo). I’m thankful the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have heard the call from Michigan voters to remove barriers to accessing reproductive health care. Today we are taking an important step forward in restoring individuals’ freedoms while improving access to safe care.” 


“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,“ said state Representative Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Township). “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.” 


“As a parent, I am grateful that I can raise my kids in a state where the government can’t force people to give birth,” said state Representative Natalie Price (D-Berkley), sponsor of House Bill 4955. “I look forward to continuing the work to ensure that all Michiganders, including young people, can access the abortion care they need.” 


“After years of advocacy, these bills will finally remove the restrictions that were designed solely to limit Michiganders’ access to abortion,” said state Representative Kara Hope (D-Holt). “My bill in this package puts an end to criminal penalties associated with abortion care. Reproductive health care is not a crime, and I’m glad that Gov. Whitmer has signed these bills ensuring that Michigan law reflects this.” 


“With the signing of the Reproductive Healthcare Act today, we are removing politically motivated barriers that only existed to stop people from accessing health care,” state Representative Christine Morse (D-Texas Township). “As a person who has come up against those barriers, I am grateful to all of the people who have worked tirelessly to advance the right of all of us to make our own health care decisions without government intervention.” 


Michiganders Support the Reproductive Health Act    

·         In November 2022, 56.65% of Michiganders voted for Proposal 3, protecting abortion rights in our state constitution.        

·         In a May 2023 poll, 55% of women ages 18-49 say they or someone they know has made a decision due to worries about accessing abortion.       

·         In the same poll, 65% of adults are concerned bans on abortion would make it difficult for doctors to safely treat patients, leading to complications.       


“We are grateful to Governor Whitmer for her steadfast commitment to reproductive freedom and for making access to abortion a priority this session,” said ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Loren Khogali. “As we mark this victory for abortion access in Michigan, there remains important and necessary work ahead and we will continue to use all our tools to ensure that Michiganders, whatever their zip code or income level, have access to the reproductive health care – including abortion care – that they need, and the freedom to control their bodies, lives, and futures.” 


“We’re grateful to Governor Whitmer for signing the Reproductive Health Act into law today,” said Paula Thornton Greear, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan. “She has been a leader in the fight for reproductive freedom in Michigan since her earliest days in the state legislature and now, thanks to her support and advocacy, patients across Michigan will have greater access to the essential health care they need and deserve. The Reproductive Health Act will remove many of the anti-abortion laws still on our law books including unreasonable regulatory requirements on providers, restrictions on private insurance coverage, bans on sharing information at public universities, and discriminatory laws that make it difficult for abortion providers to access funding opportunities. This is an incredible step forward for Michigan and we look forward to working with the Governor and champions in the state legislature as we continue the fight for true reproductive freedom.” 


“Michigan Voices is grateful that Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Rep. Laurie Pohutsky and Sen. Sarah Anthony and other champions in the legislature have made reproductive healthcare a priority,” said Sommer Foster, Executive Director of Michigan Voices. “Last year, Michiganders made their voices heard with their overwhelming support of Proposal 3. The promise of that amendment was not only to ensure the legal right to abortion, but to also make it accessible for all. The passage of the Reproductive Health Act is a step forward in removing barriers to care and making reproductive justice a reality. People from communities of color and rural Michiganders have faced unacceptable barriers to care that were put into place for political reasons and have nothing to do with healthcare. There is still work to do, but with the signing of the RHA, abortion care will be more affordable and accessible for many in our state.”