House passes DHHS budget bill with abortion restrictions

By: - May 19, 2022 11:36 am

Bans Off Our Bodies protest in Lansing on May 3, 2022 | Allison R. Donahue

The GOP-led House passed a proposed budget for Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Wednesday that includes a number of restrictions to abortion access and prohibits state funding for abortion care.

Senate Bill 828, introduced by state Sen. Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes), would prohibit funding to organizations, and any of their subcontracts, that provide elective abortion services, abortion counseling or abortion referrals in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget.

Michigan’s next budget year starts Oct. 1 and GOP leaders and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have not negotiated a budget deal yet..

Republicans who control both the House and Senate have not wasted time rolling out new abortion restriction proposals in Michigan after a draft decision from the U.S. Supreme Court leaked last month that showed the court’s intention to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision that granted the constitutional right to abortion access. 

House Republicans also proposed a DHHS budget bill that prohibits state and federal funding to be allocated to abortion providers. Rather, that money would be diverted into promoting childbirth and adoption, as abortion “alternatives.”

SB 828 nearly passed along party lines, with state Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) as the lone Democrat voting in support of the bill. Whitsett has broken with her party on past measures, like curbing Whitmer’s emergency health powers, and has praised former President Donald Trump over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s not new that I disagree with Rep. Whitsett, but I am incredibly disappointed to see her support funding for anti-choice programs through the MDHHS budget,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “With abortion rights already under attack and Roe v. Wade in jeopardy, our leaders should be fighting like hell to preserve reproductive freedom. Instead, Rep. Whitsett sided with the GOP and delivered the deciding vote to push this funding through. Her constituents deserve far better than this.”

If Roe is overturned, Michigan has a state law from 1931 that would make all abortions in Michigan a felony, unless to save the life of the pregnant woman. 

However, even if Roe were to be struck down by SCOTUS, enforcement of the 1931 law is temporarily paused after a Court of Claims judge granted a preliminary injunction on Tuesday in a suit brought by Planned Parenthood seeking to block enforcement of the state’s 1931 abortion ban.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.