Michigan Democrats’ push to simplify access to abortion hit a roadblock from within their own party.
The obstacle: Despite backing from both chambers of the legislature and a guarantee of approval from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Democrats’ Reproductive Health Act stalls due to opposition from one of their own, State Representative Karen Whitsett.
* Whitsett broke with her party to cast the lone Democratic “no” vote on the Reproductive Health Act in the House of Representatives health policy committee.
* Despite being a supporter of abortion rights, Whitsett believes the existing restrictions on the procedure are not unreasonable and opposes state-funded abortions via Medicaid.
* Whitsett’s stance means the Democrats, with a slim majority in the state house, lack the necessary votes to pass the bill.
The issue at hand: The Reproductive Health Act aims to dismantle several abortion restrictions in Michigan, including a mandatory waiting period, an informed consent form, and specific regulations on abortion clinics.
* The legislation would also enable Medicaid to pay for abortions for low-income patients and simplify private insurance’s approval for abortion coverage.
* Supporters argue these changes would alleviate the difficulties faced by patients to access abortion care due to the existing complex regulations.
* Critics, notably from Republicans, deem the Act as an overreach and undermining patients while discarding the will of Michigan voters.
Impact on patients: Each month, Planned Parenthood of Michigan reportedly turns away at least 150 patients due to errors with required paperwork.
* The compulsory paperwork requires internet access, a printer and needs to be completed within a specific time window.
* Delays due to paperwork errors can cause treatable medical conditions to amplify to life-threatening ones.
Next steps: Despite opposition, some insiders believe the possibility of a compromise exists before the legislative session ends. Governor Whitmer still expects every piece of legislation in the Reproductive Health Act to pass.
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