Michigan Republicans push to amend state constitution to restrict abortion
On Feb. 15th, 10 House Republican legislators introduced 15 bills relating to Michigan’s recently passed constitutional amendment regarding abortion access, providers, and professionals. In total, the bills look to limit and define language in Michigan’s constitution around the right to reproductive freedom.
Rep. Andrew Fink (R – Hudson) introduced House Bill 4103, which would define the application of “extraordinary medical measure” under the “Fetal Viability” section of the constitution as interventions, therapies, and professional services that are not commonly rendered.
Rep. Gregory Alexander (R – Caseville) introduced HB 4104, which would prohibit an individual who is less than 16 years of age from having an abortion unless they first obtain consent from their parent or guardian. During the introduction of Proposal 3 in 2022, there was debate on whether the Parental Rights Restoration Act would still be in effect.
The act requires minors to obtain parental consent before an abortion procedure is performed. Legal experts weighed in on this issue last year, including Leah Litman, a University of Michigan law professor who specializes in constitutional law. She noted lawmakers routinely create regulations of rights in the context of children.
“You have a right to a handgun,” Litman said. “That doesn’t mean a 10-year-old can buy a handgun.” She called Michigan’s current parental consent requirement “completely constitutional” under the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment.
Rep. Angela Rigas (R – Kent County) introduced HB 4105, which would define certain mental health conditions that merit an individual having an abortion. These conditions must have been diagnosed before the individual was pregnant. HB 4105 lists only the following mental health conditions: neurodevelopmental disorder, Schizophrenia disorder, bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, trauma disorder, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, a stress disorder, a dissociative disorder, a neurocognitive disorder, or a personality disorder.
Rep. Pat Outman (R – Montcalm) introduced HB 4106, which amends language concerning who can provide abortions in Section 2835 and 2837 of Michigan Compiled Law. The language changes “A physician” to “An attending healthcare professional.”
David Martin (R – Grand Blanc) introduced HB 4107, which would not allow a person to have an abortion if there is a prenatal diagnosis that indicates that the unborn child may have down syndrome.
Rep. Gina Johnsen (R – Lowell) introduced HB 4108, which looks to redefine “fetal viability” to be the number of gestational weeks as determined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which puts fetal viability between 20 weeks to 26 weeks of gestation. This is based on a number of factors that range from certain or near-certain death to likely survival with a high likelihood of serious morbidities.
However, Michigan’s constitution already defines “fetal viability” as the point in pregnancy when, in the professional judgment of an attending healthcare professional and based on the particular facts of the case, there is a significant likelihood of the fetus’s sustained survival outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures.
Rep. Donni Steele (R – Bloomfield Hills), Rep. Mark Tisdale (R – Rochester Hills), Fink, Rep. Alicia St. Germaine (R – Fraser), Rep. Angela Rigas (R – Kent County), Martin, Rep. Nancy DeBoer (R – Holland), Outman, and Johnson introduced HBs 4109 – 17, respectively. Each bill would exclude a certain profession from being considered healthcare professionals in the context of abortions..
The bills would exclude professionals such as dentists, dermatologists, podiatric physicians, chiropractors, ophthalmologists, midwives, doulas, massage therapists, and athletic trainers.
Michigan law already states that only a licensed physician may perform abortions and clinics must be licensed by the state in order to legally operate. State law also provides clarification on who can assist the physician when it comes to determining and performing abortions, which include another physician, a licensed physician assistant, a licensed psychologist, a licensed professional counselor, a registered nurse, or a licensed social worker.
The 15 bills are not tie-barred to each other and each bill awaits a hearing in the House Health Policy Committee.
While House Republicans have been introducing bills to limit reproductive healthcare, Senate Democrats have been introducing reproductive healthcare bills to repeal Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban and penalties, which include Senate Bills 2, 37, 38, 39, and 93.
Sen. Erika Geiss (D – Taylor) is sponsoring SB 2 to repeal the 1931 law.
Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D – West Bloomfield), Sen. Stephanie Chang (D – Detroit), and Geiss are sponsoring SBs 37, 38, and 39, respectively. This set of bills, which are tie barred, would repeal criminal penalties, sentencing guidelines, and parole minimums for individuals for administering medications for abortions or to procure a miscarriage.
Sen. Sarah Anthony (D – Lansing) is sponsoring SB 93, which would repeal criminal penalties for individuals who advertise or sell abortion prescription drugs.
On March 1st, the Senate’s Health Policy Committee passed the five bills on party lines 6 in favor and 4 opposed, and they all head to the Senate floor.