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Michigan Senate votes to repeal 24-hour wait for abortion, other restrictions

Michigan Democrats are working to repeal a series of abortion restrictions they contend are medically unnecessary (Bridge file photo)
  • Michigan Senate votes to repeal several abortion restrictions, including 24-hour waiting period
  • Democrats contend the regulations are designed to limit access, Republicans say they are about safety and informed consent
  • The legislation faces a potential roadblock in the Michigan House, where at least one Democrat supports the 24-waiting period

LANSING – Democrats in the Michigan Senate voted Thursday to repeal a series of abortion regulations despite strenuous Republican objections and an uncertain future for the bills in the House. 

The package, approved in a series of party-line votes, would eliminate a 24-hour waiting period for abortions in Michigan and repeal strict facility regulations for abortion clinics, among other things. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Democratic lawmakers and abortion providers contend those rules, approved by prior Republican-led Legislatures, are medically unnecessary and designed to limit abortion access.


“For far too long, politicians in state capitols and courtrooms have spent many months, many years deciding what to do with my body and the bodies of women in every corner of this state and every corner of this country,” sponsoring Sen. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, said in a floor speech.

“And this has led to current laws that are on the books that have made reproductive health care, including the right to access a safe abortion, both restrictive and traumatic. And that's simply why we are here today.”

Republicans uniformly opposed the repeals, arguing they will take the state far beyond abortion access protections added to the Michigan Constitution last year when voters approved ballot Proposal 3

“It is abortion extremism, plain and simple, and it will have deadly consequences not only for unborn children, but potentially also for the women seeking an abortion,” argued Sen. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell. “These bills are not about protecting health. They are about promoting the abortion industry and advancing an anti-life agenda that gets more radical and extreme by the day.”’

There were 30,120 induced abortion reported in Michigan last year, up slightly from 30,074 the year prior, according to state data. Many neighboring states have limited or banned abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, prompting Michigan doctors to perform nearly 1,110 additional abortions for out-of-state residents in 2022.

Thursday’s vote was the latest step in an effort by Whitmer and legislative Democrats to undo restrictive Republican abortion laws, including the April repeal of a 1931 ban that was nearly reactivated last year when Roe fell. 

However, Senate Democrats abandoned some bills they had introduced as part of the package approved Thursday, including a proposal that would have allowed state-funded abortions through Medicaid insurance. 

The measures, now head to the House, where they face roadblocks.

Democrats hold a two-seat majority in the lower chamber and need every vote to pass a bill. One Democrat, Rep. Karen Whitsett of Detroit, has already publicly announced her support for the 24-hour waiting period the legislation would repeal. 

The 1994 informed consent law requires women to wait 24 hours after seeking an abortion from a medical provider, who must first give her "accurate information" about abortion and "alternatives."

Abortion access advocates, including Planned Parenthood of Michigan, on Thursday urged the Democratic-led House to pass the original package "in full" in order to "remove the many barriers to abortion care in Michigan state law that exist only to push abortion out of reach."

The Michigan Catholic Conference, which opposes the legislation, said Thursday it is urging House members to "stand against the hostility and political pressure from the abortion lobby."

“The Senate’s action today — pure and simple — inoculates abortion businesses from minimal levels of transparency and accountability," said Rebecca Mastee, a policy advocate for the Catholic Conference.

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