During the first parliamentary hearing on measures that would abolish rules that supporters of abortion rights claim place onerous hurdles on patients and facilities, Democratic lawmakers wanting to pass a “Reproductive Health Act” in Michigan that aims to remove laws targeting abortion handed physicians the microphone.
The session was opened by state representative Laurie Pohutsky, a Democrat from Livonia, who said that such regulations were created by legislators without taking the needs of individuals seeking abortions into account. We won’t make the same mistakes again, she declared. Pohutksy said the new measures would ensure that individuals in Michigan may use their constitutional right to have abortions, which was established by a ballot initiative approved by voters last autumn. If you cannot exercise a right, it is not a right, She said. In Michigan, the informed consent statute, which mandates reading particular information before the operation, the 24-hour waiting time before an abortion, and a provision permitting private and public insurance companies to refuse to fund abortions are among the changes that would be made.
Several obstetricians and gynecologists spoke before the House Committee on Health Policy, calling the existing regulations medically unnecessary and urging Congress to repeal them. Some of the restrictions were defended by a few OBGYNs who appeared with opponents of abortion rights, claiming that the rules don’t burden patients.
When asked if other procedures outside abortion required a 24-hour disclosure and waiting time, one said that Michigan law makes a distinction between them.
No, according to my understanding, Dr. Michelle Monticello replied. The committee’s chair, state representative Julie Rogers, a Democrat from Kalamazoo, interrupted her as she tried to continue. “Thank you, that clears up the query.”
An informed consent form must be filled out and printed 24 hours before the operation in Michigan for people seeking abortions. Reviewing things like parental advice is part of the process.
OBGYNs who testified on Thursday claimed they’ve had to turn away patients because they only had time for one visit to a clinic or didn’t have a printer to fill out the form. They said that patients who wished to continue their pregnancies but discovered they were unviable may find the information they must see, such as images of fetal development, upsetting.
Additionally, some patients have been saddled with hefty abortion-related fees since their insurance didn’t cover the operation.
The committee heard testimony from Amanda Mazur, a resident of rural northwest Michigan, who said she was unaware she required a specific insurance rider for her abortion. She had decided to have the procedure after experiencing serious pregnancy-related issues and learning there was little chance her unborn child would survive if she gave birth. A healthcare visit costs more than $26,000.
The legislation aims to change other abortion-specific laws, such as those governing clinics, which, according to advocates for abortion rights, make it more difficult for those in remote areas of the state to open. A repeal of Michigan’s statute requiring parental approval or a court waiver for minors seeking abortions, which was not included in this package but was suggested in earlier iterations of the Reproductive Health Act that languished under GOP control of the Legislature, would have been eliminated. Pohutsky expressed worries that including it this time would make the remainder of the package go more slowly.