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Michigan NewsAdvocates want total abortion rights freedom after filing lawsuit citing constitutional amendment...

Advocates want total abortion rights freedom after filing lawsuit citing constitutional amendment violation

In June 2022, the Supreme Court overruled Roe and Casey in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on the grounds that the substantive right to abortion was not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history or tradition”, nor considered a right when the Due Process Clause was ratified in 1868, and was unknown in U.S. law until Roe.

This paved the way for many Republican-led states to enact state laws heavily restricting abortion rights, commonly known as near-total bans. These state laws, in similar shape or form, apply to many states, including Florida, Texas, and Georgia and in almost every case, abortion rights advocates in those states try to challenge the laws in court.

In Michigan, the current situation is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Abortion in Michigan is legal throughout all stages of pregnancy. A state constitutional amendment to explicitly guarantee abortion rights was placed on the ballot in 2022 as Michigan Proposal 22-3; it passed with 57 percent of the vote, adding the right to abortion and contraceptive use to the Michigan Constitution. But abortion rights advocates want even more freedom.

Supporters of abortion rights are urging the Michigan Court of Claims to eliminate some of the state's existing abortion rules.

Michigan abortion rights advocates file lawsuit

Supporters of abortion rights are urging the Michigan Court of Claims to eliminate some of the state’s existing abortion rules. They argue these rules go against the new constitutional amendment created by Proposal 3 in 2022, which guarantees abortion rights.

This amendment, known as Reproductive Freedom for All, is supposed to offer one of the most comprehensive protections for reproductive rights in any state constitution. However, the lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday by groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights, Northland Family Planning clinics, and Medical Students for Choice, points out that some older abortion laws that contradict this amendment are still in effect.

The three restrictions named in the suit are:

  1. The state’s 24-hour mandatory waiting period. Currently, it requires patients to access an online form and sign it at least 24 hours, but no more than two weeks, before their appointment. They must also print the form and bring it to their appointment, otherwise the appointment can’t proceed. At least 150 Michigan patientsare turned away from their appointments each month, because they didn’t know about or made a mistake with this form, according to Planned Parenthood of Michigan.
  2. The state’s informed consent requirement, which is part of the same form, and requires patients to click through information about parenting and illustrations of fetal development.
  3. A law allowing only physicians (and not other advanced care practitioners, like nurse practitioners) to provide abortions.

Last year, Democrats couldn’t gather enough votes to end the 24-hour wait, the need for a consent form, and a rule stopping Medicaid from paying for abortions. They did manage to get a weaker version of the Reproductive Health Act through, which lets private insurance cover abortion and drops the rule that clinics doing surgical abortions have to be licensed like independent surgery centers. The lawsuit doesn’t go after the rule about Medicaid not covering abortions.

“Every day, and especially since Roe was overturned, our providers and clinic staff work tirelessly to meet the needs of both Michigan residents and out-of-state patients,” said Renee Chelian, executive director of Northland Family Planning Centers, in a news release issued Tuesday. “Despite our win with Proposal 3, patients continue to face onerous barriers to care imposed by Michigan law. These barriers should not exist under the RFFA.”

Many still against abortion rights

However, those against abortion think the lawsuit is just a way to avoid the normal law-making process and doesn’t reflect what the voters actually want. They point to surveys done by Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference, which were against the Reproductive Health Act.

“The abortion industry, with the help of Governor Whitmer, is dead set on systematically stripping away protections for women who are seeking an abortion,” Genevieve Marnon, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, said on Tuesday. The group filed its own suit last year, seeking to have Proposal 3 overturned.

“Women should be very concerned. Don’t let anyone tell you they are doing this to fulfill the will of Michigan voters and somehow tie this to Proposal 3 – that is a fallacy.

“Governor Whitmer and Democrats in our state legislature just removed basic health and safety protections from clinics that do abortions,” Marnon said.

“95% of Michiganders wanted these basic, long-standing health and safety regulations to remain in place. They were unsuccessful at removing Informed Consent and the 24-hour waiting period through the legislative process last fall so are now coming after it through the courts,” Marnon added.