LANSING, Mich. (FOX 2) - On Wednesday, Michigan Democrats passed a watered-down version of their Reproductive Health Act, which sought to reduce barriers to abortion access in the state.
The package repeals specific regulations aimed at abortion providers called TRAP laws, which critics say have led to reduced access to the procedure in parts of the state. It also repeals restrictions on some insurance options paying for the procedure.
The expansion is a smaller win for the party which had originally aimed to also repeal the state's 24-hour waiting period on receiving the procedure and allowing Medicaid to cover the procedure.
Democrats took out the provisions to lock down the vote of Detroit Rep. Karen Whitsett, the lone Democrat who had objected to both portions of the package. Margins in the Michigan House were small enough the party couldn't afford to lose a single vote or risk seeing the package die.
"Today’s passage of the Reproductive Health Act is an important step forward for Michiganders, but sadly, only an incremental one," said Dr. Sarah Wallett, Chief Medical Operating Office of Planned Parenthood of Michigan. "While we are grateful that Michigan’s TRAP laws will finally be repealed, making it less burdensome for abortion providers to expand into areas of the state that need them most, I am deeply disappointed that some of the worst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."
The bill passed during a late-night round of voting in Lansing. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Laurie Pohutsky of Livonia.
"We have made monumental strides today for reproductive rights and freedoms for the people of Michigan. We are in a new era as a country on the topic of abortion. Quite frankly, I hope the passage of the RHA makes it clear that when it comes to what people can and cannot do regarding their reproductive health — it’s nobody’s business but that of the patient and their team of medical professionals," she said.
It's expected to be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The Michigan governor previously named repealing anti-abortion restrictions as one of her top priorities for the second round of legislating during her term.