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Whitmer: Plans underway to ensure access to abortion drug

For Michiganders, the biggest impact of the appeals court’s decision may be telehealth, where providers like Planned Parenthood meet virtually with patients and send mifepristone and misoprostol directly to their homes through the mail.
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Governor Whitmer says the state is making plans to ensure continued access to mifepristone.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan is making plans to ensure access to an abortion drug as federal courts sort through the controversy.

There are a variety of rulings from courts in other states regarding the drug mifepristone. The sometimes-competing decisions have created uncertainty surrounding the continued availability of the drug from suppliers. It’s expected the final call will be made by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Whitmer says she’s considering multiple options to ensure abortion clinics in Michigan can still get mifepristone.

“We are looking at a variety of things,” she said earlier this week. Whitmer said that could include stockpiling mifepristone.

“I think there are going to be some opportunities,” she said. “I hope it doesn’t become necessary, but we are exploring a variety of different tools to ensure that women and girls in Michigan still have access to this important care.”

The federal cases around the country are creating uncertainty, said Dr. Sarah Wallett, the chief medical operating officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

“Patients don’t deserve that,” she said. “Providers know what’s right for our patients and that is not a question in this. I know being able to continue to provide mifepristone would be the right thing for my patients.”

But if access to mifepristone is limited, Wallett said abortion providers could still use another drug that is less effective.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services would not provide details on options under consideration.

“The Supreme Court decision is pending, however, Michigan families can legally continue to access abortion care, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will do all we can to protect and expand access to reproductive freedom,” said MDHHS spokesperson Lynn Sutfin in an emailed statement.

The right to abortion in Michigan is guaranteed by an amendment to the state Constitution that was approved by voters last year.

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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