Pro-choice protesters gather at the Supreme Court on May 21, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Alabama abortion law, signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last week, includes no exceptions for cases of rape and incest, outlawing all abortions except when necessary to prevent serious health problems for the woman.| Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Two anti-abortion groups have been pushing ballot initiatives since last summer in Michigan, part of a trend of new abortion limits and bans all across the country.
The Michigan Values Life petition, proposed by Right to Life of Michigan, would ban the dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedure, which it calls “dismemberment abortion.”
The Michigan Heartbeat Coalition’s proposal would ban abortions at the first sign of cardiac activity, usually within the first six to eight weeks.
The anti-abortion groups are required collect 340,047 signatures to get on the 2020 ballot. If the groups succeed in collecting enough valid signatures, the measures would go to the state Legislature before appearing on the ballot. They are expected to be adopted by the GOP-led Legislature — as have other initiatives, like the so-called “rape insurance” law banning abortion coverage in standard health policies.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opposes the measures, but does not have the power to veto them.
On Dec. 23, Right to Life of Michigan said it had collected 379,418 signatures and submitted the petition to the Michigan Bureau of Elections, where the signatures are currently being counted and verified.
Secretary of State spokesman Mike Doyle told the Advance Thursday there is no set timeline of when this process will be concluded.
The Michigan Heartbeat Coalition has until May 27 to submit all valid signatures to the Bureau of Elections to be considered on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
Using the map below, you can see what abortion laws look like, not just in Michigan, but across the nation and compare Michigan’s current laws to those in other states using data from the Guttmacher Institute. You can roll over states for a quick snapshot of key laws from each state.
Michigan abortion restrictions
Michigan currently has a number of restrictions on abortion, including how it is paid for, at what point in the pregnancy the patient can get an abortion and other methods to discourage people from getting an abortion.
Health care covered through private insurance policies and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) only cover the costs of abortion in cases of life endangerment, unless individuals purchase an optional rider at an additional cost. Funding through Medicaid is only available for abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
In Michigan, abortions may only be performed at or after viability if the patient’s life is at risk by the pregnancy.
Other factors that limit a person’s choice are the state requirements for abortion clinics, which mandate certain standards for their building, equipment and staffing. Another process that discourages women from getting the procedure is the state-directed counseling on supposed negative psychological effects, followed by a 24-hour waiting period before the procedure is provided.
In 2017, 26,630 abortions were provided in Michigan, and a number of these abortions were provided to out-of-state people who traveled to Michigan for the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
There were 30 facilities providing abortions in Michigan, and 21 of those were clinics in 2017. But 87% of Michigan counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 35% of Michigan women lived in those counties.
Rise in anti-abortion laws nationwide
The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognized the constitutional right to abortion. But since 2010, more states have adopted restrictive laws and many anti-abortion supporters are hoping this will lead to a conservative U.S. Supreme Court ultimately overturning the landmark decision.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 483 new abortion restrictions were enacted across the country between Jan. 1, 2011, and July 1, 2019.
Some of the most common state-level abortion restrictions are parental notification or consent requirements for minors, limitations on public funding, mandated counseling designed to dissuade individuals from obtaining an abortion, mandated waiting periods before an abortion, and regulations on abortion facilities.
In May 2019, lawmakers in Alabama enacted the Human Life Protection Act, which was set to impose a near-total ban on abortion in the state by making it a felony for a physician to perform an abortion at any stage of the pregnancy unless the person’s life was at risk.
A federal judge blocked the legislation and delayed implementation.
In Ohio, two fetal heartbeat bills were introduced in February 2019 that would make abortion illegal at the first detection of a heartbeat, which usually is between five or six weeks into the pregnancy, without any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
The bill was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in April. But in July, the law was also blocked by a federal judge.
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