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Judge blocks Michigan’s abortion waiting period—Democratic lawmakers rejoice

Judge blocks Michigan’s abortion waiting period—Democratic lawmakers rejoice

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

By Lucas Henkel

June 27, 2024

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel released statements on the reproductive law case, Northland v. Nessel.

A judge recently blocked Michigan’s 24-hour waiting period for abortions after saying it conflicts with a 2022 voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that guarantees abortion rights

The waiting period was part of an old state law that required those seeking an abortion to receive pamphlets of information about alternative options in addition to the 24-hour waiting period. The rule created unnecessary delays for patients in need of essential care—especially those traveling hundreds of miles to receive abortion care who might not have realized there was a waiting period. 

However, the vote of a single Michigan lawmaker—State Representative Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit)—contributed to a “watered down” version of the state’s Reproductive Health Act getting passed in November of last year. This left the law regarding the 24-hour waiting period to remain active. 

The waiting period “forces needless delay on patients after they are able to consent to a procedure, thus burdening and infringing upon a patient’s access to abortion care,” said Judge Sima Patel of the Court of Claims in an interview with the Associated Press. The judge also stopped Michigan’s requirement that only a physician can perform an abortion, noting that it excluded qualified nurses, physician assistants, and nurse midwives. 

“This exacerbates existing provider shortages, leading to large swathes of Michigan that currently lack physicians to provide abortion care,” said Patel. 

State defense attorneys said the waiting periods gave individuals time to reflect on a major decision. The lawsuit was filed by Northland Family Planning Centers and a group called Medical Students for Choice. 

“These provisions only served to delay and mislead patients, which is contradictory to the goals of healthcare,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in a press release. “We applaud the Court for this decision and remain undeterred in our work to protect reproductive care for all Michigan residents.”

“The 24-hour waiting period has no basis in science. It is a political roadblock put in place to shame and inconvenience women, often forcing them to pay more to get the care they need or denying them that care altogether,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a press release

“The statutory consent requirement put in place by anti-choice legislators is a misnomer, too. Every medical procedure, including abortion, already requires extensive conversations between providers and patients to ensure informed consent. Eliminating the statute’s requirement for doctors to provide incorrect, unscientific information will ensure they can speak to patients—without using a script drawn up by politicians—and can get true consent for medical procedures. And expanding the pool of qualified medical professionals who can provide care will ensure access for all Michiganders.” 

“By removing these barriers to reproductive health care, we will ensure Michigan is a state where you can make the medical decisions that are best for you and your family in consultation with your doctor.” 

Author

  • Lucas Henkel

    Lucas Henkel is a multimedia reporter who strives to inform and inspire local communities. Before joining The 'Gander, Lucas served as a journalist for the Lansing City Pulse.

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