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Abortion access advocates call for dropping restrictions, including parental consent

A sign reads "Abortion Saves Lives" at a rally for abortion rights in Kalamazoo's Bronson Park in March 2022. (Dan Nichols/WWMT)
A sign reads "Abortion Saves Lives" at a rally for abortion rights in Kalamazoo's Bronson Park in March 2022. (Dan Nichols/WWMT)
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Advocates for abortion access are calling on lawmakers in Michigan's capital to take further steps to expand abortion care after the passage of Proposal 3 last November.

While the voters' approval of Prop 3 wrote abortion access into the Michigan constitution, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, the legislative advocacy arm of the Planned Parenthood organization in the state, said barriers still remain to making abortion accessible.

“There’s so much more work to do on all fronts to make sure that people can really access the reproductive healthcare that they need,” Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said.

This week, the group has laid out a number of priorities its looking to be passed in the newly Democratic-led legislature. It's the first time in nearly four decades the party has had a supermajority in Michigan.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan's new priorities include:

  • Removing the parental consent requirement for anyone under the age of 18
  • Removing the 24-hour waiting period before receiving an abortion procedure
  • Removing the requirement that only doctors can perform abortions, advocating for advanced practice clinicians to be able to perform the procedure
  • Removing the requirement for abortion care providers to be licensed as free-standing surgical outpatient facilities
  • Removing the restriction on insurance providers covering abortions

Wells Stallworth said the priorities have a shared focus of making sure Michigan's laws "align with our constitutional rights," with the ultimate goal of making it so abortion is treated as any other healthcare procedure.

Right to Life of Michigan Legislative Director Genevieve Marnon said Planned Parenthood Advocates' plans are disingenuous and hypocritical.

“It’s interesting that they say that they want abortion treated like any other healthcare procedure, and yet other healthcare procedures require parental consent... and by the way, there are no surgical procedures you can get in less than 24 hours,” said Marnon.

Marnon added she has serious concerns about the proposal to get rid of parental approval for anyone getting abortions under the age of 18.

Under current Michigan law, courts must uphold parental consent requirements for anyone under the age of 18 seeking an abortion. This requires any minors seeking an abortion to get the written consent of a parent or legal guardian before they can undergo the procedure.

However, there are exceptions. Judicial bypasses could allow a minor seeking an abortion to prove to a court that making their parents aware of the pregnancy would jeopardize their life, safety, or health. Minors would also be able to seek an exception if they are able to prove that they are capable of making the decision themselves.

“As a parent, I can tell you that I think parental consent is very important,” Marnon said.

In response to the proposals, the Michigan Catholic Conference, an anti-abortion group and the advocacy arm of the Catholic Church in Michigan, shared a survey that the group conducted, which found 67% of voters polled supported parental consent for abortion.

The March 2023 poll, which had a sample size of 599 and a margin of error of 4%, polled Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. It also found 60.3% of voters in favor of Prop 3 were in favor of parental consent for abortions.

The proposals have not been formally introduced as bills, but Wells Stallworth said she was aware of multiple strong supporters of abortion rights currently serving in the legislature.

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