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Governor Whitmer signs Reproductive Health Act

Colin Jackson
Governor Gretchen Whitmer (center) displaying the signed Reproductive Health Act with supporters at the statehouse in Lansing.

Michiganders will soon no longer be required to purchase abortion coverage through a separate health insurance rider.

That’s because the governor signed a repeal of the policy into law Monday. It’ll take effect in mid-February.

The governor previously signed other related repeals, like requirements for doctors to provide certain literature to patients before performing a procedure, but laws remain.

Representative Laurie Pohutksy (D-Livonia) sponsored the bill signed Monday.

“There are things that are still being retained and I think that it’s safe to say there’s also litigation options that some folks are exploring. But regardless, we’re not going to shelve this issue and say that we’re done with it. There’s going to be work that is going to be ongoing,” Pohutsky said.

The legislation also codifies the state Constitution’s right to an abortion in state law and provides residents with the ability to sue if that right is infringed upon.

Overall, it’s known as the Reproductive Health Act.

Though package supporters say it removes barriers that unnecessarily target abortion access in Michigan, abortion rights opponents disagree.

Right to Life of Michigan legislative director Genevieve Marnon said Monday’s bill is not a matter of access, since abortion rights are already clear.

“What this does by repealing the abortion insurance opt-out law, it now forces everybody, you, me, all the taxpayers, to subsidize abortion in the insurance exchanges, as well as through our insurance premiums,” Marnon said.

The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act came about in 2013 via a ballot measure that the state Legislature adopted into law.

Marnon said it was a response to the Affordable Care Act and its incentivization for people to buy insurance plans.

“Citizens are subsidized through taxpayer dollars to buy insurance plans. And because they can buy insurance plans with built-in abortion coverage, we the taxpayers are now subsidizing abortion insurance coverage through the exchanges, and through our insurance premiums,” Marnon explained.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s bill signing Monday came on the 10-year anniversary of when she spoke out against the effort in the Michigan Senate, back when she was minority leader.

Whitmer said it’s a lesson for those fighting to protect reproductive rights.

“Sometimes that work takes longer than days or weeks. Sometimes, maybe it takes a decade and it’s still not truly finished. But staying in that fight is the only way to win that fight,” Whitmer said.

Some policies that Whitmer had originally wanted to see removed, like the state’s mandatory 24 hour abortion waiting period, remain on the books for a future fight

Colin Jackson is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.