Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer signs into law ban on discrimination against employees getting an abortion

By: - May 18, 2023 9:08 am

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (left) poses for a picture with Paula Thornton-Greear at a Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan lobby day in Lansing on May 2, 2023. | Anna Liz Nichols

Employers in Michigan will now be barred from discriminating against their employees for getting an abortion, under legislation signed into law this week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The legislation, Senate Bill 147, brings the state’s civil rights laws up to code with Proposal 3 of 2022, the constitutional amendment securing the right to an abortion and reproductive health care that Michigan voters approved in the November election, proponents of the legislation say.

Current law still puts barriers between Michigan residents and abortions, bill sponsor state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) said in testimony throughout the legislative process.

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Previously, the law has only protected employees who have abortions intended to save their life, meaning employers could fire someone for having an abortion outside of that criteria.

“Abortion is healthcare and nobody should be discriminated against because of their personal healthcare decisions,” Geiss said in a news release Wednesday when Whitmer signed the legislation into law. “Abortion is a constitutional right in Michigan and the freedom to fully control our bodies, lives, and futures is vital to all of us. This legislation aligns with that right and ensures that employers cannot use their deeply held beliefs to discriminate against employees making personal healthcare decisions.” 

Republican lawmakers offered their concerns over the legislation while it made its way through the chambers. When the bill reached the House, Rep. Rachelle Smit (R-Martin), among others, claimed the bill violates the religious and personal freedoms of employers around the state.

“They believe as I do, that being forced to pay for abortions and abortion pills is morally wrong,” Smit said before the House vote earlier this month.

The legislation protects fundamental freedoms that are key for protecting democracy in Michigan, Whitmer said in a news release Wednesday.

“No one in Michigan should face discrimination because they exercised their constitutional rights, including their right to reproductive freedom by having an abortion,” Whitmer said.


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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University.