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Whitmer signs more bills to repeal abortion restrictions

Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Rick Pluta
Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she looks forward to signing more laws that further roll back abortion restrictions.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed more bills Tuesday to roll back abortion restrictions remaining on the books in Michigan.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bills Tuesday to roll back more abortion restrictions remaining on the books in Michigan even though it is questionable if they could be enforced under the reproductive rights amendment adopted a year ago by voters.

The governor signed the bills in a room filled with supporters cheering a new round of abortion rights laws. The Democratic governor already signed a law back in April to repeal the state’s criminal abortion ban. Whitmer said all this helps align state laws with the reproductive rights amendment adopted last year by voters.

“Today we are taking another bold step forward to ensure that Michigan law reflects Michigan values,” she said. “The people spoke loudly last year.”

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing had a different view.

“This is a dark day in Michigan as the Governor recklessly signs into law a package of bills that present an immediate danger to the health and safety of women and children, including the unborn, in our state,” she said, noting poll numbers that suggest a majority of voters support some restrictions on abortion.

One of the bills Whitmer signed repeals a law to criminalize medication abortions, including prescribing the drug mifepristone.

“Medication abortion is the most common method of abortion, and while other states restrict access to these pills, we in Michigan are making sure that our health care providers and patients have every option available,” she said.

Dr. Sarah Wallett, the chief medical operating officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan, said repealing the laws will provide clinics and patients with certainty.

“Under current restrictions, our patients are seeing growing wait times for appointments -- already more than three weeks out in some areas of the state,” she said. “They’re traveling longer and longer distances to access care and, tragically, far too many are being forced to cancel appointments altogether because as hard as they try, they can’t overcome the logistical or financial barriers in their way.”

Whitmer said she will soon sign a bill to repeal the requirement that forbids insurers from offering abortion coverage without policyholders paying more for a rider.

The governor also said she still hopes the Legislature will send her bills to repeal more restrictions – including the ban on Medicaid funding for abortions and a required 24-hour waiting period. Bills to do that stalled in the Legislature before it adjourned for the year. House Democratic leaders operating with a slim majority were unable to muster enough votes after Representative Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) balked on supporting those bills.