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Michigan ban on taxpayer-funded abortions targeted by lawsuit

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Michigan’s Medicaid program pays for childbirth, birth control and sterilization, but not abortion. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of YWCA Kalamazoo, which pays for abortions sought by women in the Medicaid program

Abortion-rights supporters filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to overturn Michigan’s longtime ban on taxpayer-funded abortions for low-income residents, arguing it cannot stand after voters in 2022 approved a sweeping constitutional amendment ensuring access to the medical procedure.

The lawsuit came just two days after a judge, citing the same amendment, blocked a 24-hour waiting period and other abortion-related restrictions that remain in Michigan law.

Michigan’s Medicaid program provides coverage for childbirth, birth control and sterilization, "yet denies coverage to patients who decide to exercise their constitutional right to abortion,” the lawsuit states.

“Many people with low incomes do not have enough money to cover the unexpected cost of terminating an unintended pregnancy and are forced to find funding for their abortion from multiple sources,” the lawsuit says. “This can delay access to care, which can in turn increase health risks and the cost of that care.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of YWCA Kalamazoo, which pays for abortions sought by women in the Kalamazoo area who are enrolled in the Medicaid health insurance program.

“No one should be denied reproductive health care because of who they are and how much money they have," said Susan Rosas, chief executive of the organization.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Goodwin Procter are representing YWCA Kalamazoo. They said abortion and related services are available through Medicaid in 17 states.

Michigan's Medicaid program only pays for abortions to save a woman's life or to end pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

Right to Life of Michigan, which opposes abortion, criticized the lawsuit.

“Abortion-obsessed activists are again appealing to the courts to achieve what they failed to garner support for in the legislative process,” the organization said.

Abortion rights were added to the Michigan Constitution by nearly 57% of voters in 2022, months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and left the issue to each state.

A ban on taxpayer-funded abortions has been in place for decades, no matter which political party has controlled the Michigan Legislature or the governor's office.

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