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Whitmer asks insurers to cover abortions while legal cases play out

Whitmer speaking at a podium
State of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is asking insurance companies in Michigan to provide health coverage for abortion services as legal fights over abortion rights in the state play out.

Abortion is still legal in Michigan under an order issued by a state Court of Claims judge. That order held in abeyance a 1931 abortion ban that might otherwise have taken effect while the case is litigated.

Whitmer has also asked the Michigan Supreme Court to declare abortion rights are protected by the Michigan Constitution.

“I will continue taking action until we secure reproductive freedom in Michigan,” Whitmer said during an online news conference on jobs and education.

Whitmer’s office on Wednesday released a template of a letter making the request to insurers, but did not say which companies it had been sent to. The governor’s request to insurers also looks ahead to the possibility that court battles to protect abortion rights in Michigan will fail:

“Steps you can take now may include ensuring that women have access to a robust network of providers, for both in-person and tele-health care; lowering cost-sharing requirements and eliminating or reducing barriers to receive care outside Michigan; intensifying your efforts to contract with healthcare providers who can provide Michigan women with safe abortions performed in states where abortion remains legal even if the 1931 law were to come into effect; and providing coverage for travel expenses related to out-of-state care.”

The Legislature’s Republican leaders are also in court trying to dissolve the Court of Claims order. GOP majorities could adopt legislation and budgets to curtail Whitmer’s efforts, but the governor, with her veto power, would have the final word on that.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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