Michigan Senator Mallory McMorrow (D- Royal Oak) spoke to Planned Parenthood Generation Action MSU, or PPGA, Wednesday night about information and advocacy work surrounding the Reproductive Health Act.
The Reproductive Health Act, or RHA, seeks to make abortion care more accessible in Michigan. If passed, the RHA would repeal current restrictions to getting an abortion in Michigan, including a 24-hour waiting period before receiving an abortion, requiring parental permission, building requirements and other laws.
The meeting took place hours after Representative Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) objected to the RHA, placing the bill “in limbo,” according to McMorrow.
Democrats currently hold a majority in the House of 56-54, but without full Democratic support and Republican legislators expected to oppose the bill, it will not pass, McMorrow said.
On social media, Whitsett said that she opposed the RHA because it allows for all pregnancy related expenses, including abortions, to be paid for with Medicaid. In a post on Instagram, she said that taxpayer dollars should be spent on the elderly instead of abortions.
“Given the political dynamics right now, I’m not sure that we can convince a Republican to come across the island to vote with us. But we’re going to keep trying,” McMorrow said.
PPGA Secretary and social relations and policy, comparative cultures and politics and Women’s and Gender Studies major Mackenzie Lovell said that the organization plans to continue to advocate for the passage of the RHA despite Whitsett’s opposition.
“As long as it's not getting passed, which it looks like it's not going to be, it's going to be a continuous awareness campaign,” Lovell said.
Lovell said that some of the educational advocacy work includes promoting awareness by posting to social media and advertising their meetings.
PPGA President Rylee Warner said that another advocacy tactic that PPGA is using is pushing for people to contact their lawmakers to support RHA, even if it's just a phone call to your local house representative or senator.
“The simplest way to do it is to email them and tell them how important RHA is and how you feel because the representatives are supposed to represent you,” Warner said. “It's not the other way around. We vote them in to represent us and that's why it is so important.”
McMorrow said it is important for people to know that just because Prop. 3 passed, which secured the right to an abortion in Michigan during the midterm elections this past November, that does not automatically mean abortions are accessible for everyone and that these barriers are still in place.
“Just because it's a constitutional right does not mean that people have easy access to it," McMorrow said. "That access is not universally guaranteed."
McMorrow said the RHA is about making sure that any individual has safe access to the procedure no matter their income level.
“What's the point of having it legal if we can't actually let people have access to it?" Lovell said. "So I think that's the biggest thing to takeaway is to monitor these kinds of barriers and not take Prop. 3 for granted.”
Warner said the issue of RHA passing through the legislature should concern everyone.
“Abortion healthcare does not just impact people who have uteruses, it impacts everyone,” she said. “Everyone knows someone who's had an abortion. So this is going to impact everybody.”
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