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House Democrats push for Michigan Reproductive Health Act

The chamber in Michigan's State Capitol.

Democratic state lawmakers say all people need to be able to make independent decisions about their reproductive health.

House Democrats announced their plan for a so-called Michigan Reproductive Health Act on Tuesday. The package would, among other things, repeal abortion waiting periods, restrictions on telemedicine for abortions, and any regulations of abortion facilities that are not deemed medically necessary.

Abortion is health care, but right now I’m required to abide by numerous restrictions that do nothing to improve the health of my patients,” said Dr. Sarah Wallett, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

Wallett said she wants to be able to treat abortion like any other form of health care.

Republicans have introduced bills that would restrict abortion access in the state, including a bill to ban abortions, in some cases, as early as six weeks.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has promised to veto the bills. Whitmer and House Democrats realize the bills will be difficult to move with a Republican-led Legislature, but Whitmer said they still have to try.

“We are all acutely aware of how gerrymandered this Legislature is and that it’s an uphill battle, but it doesn’t mean you don’t fight it,” she said.

The bills would also get rid of the 1931 law that completely bans all abortions. Roe v. Wade has made the law largely unenforceable, but if the Supreme Court decision is overturned, all abortions would be banned in Michigan.

Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Republican leader, Senator Mike Shirkey, said the bills won’t get far.

“It’s nothing that the majority leader was consulted upon before introduction and I don’t believe he’ll have much interest in discussing it once it is introduced,” she said.

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Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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