June 16, 2024 10:55 am

Local News

Column: One Year into the Abortion Access Crisis, Barriers Still Remain in Michigan

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by Paula Thornton Greear, Michigan Advance

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade one year ago, it stripped tens of millions of people of the right to make their own medical decisions. 

At Planned Parenthood of Michigan, we have seen the devastating consequences of this decision firsthand. People across the country are being denied the care they need and many are being forced to travel hundreds of miles to access abortion services, putting their health and lives at risk.

And for every patient who is able to reach our health center doors, we worry about those who could not make the journey. Recent research from #WeCount shows that in the first nine months of the abortion access crisis, more than 24,000 Americans were unable to obtain an abortion in their home state or travel for care. 

As a Black woman, a mother and the leader of Michigan’s foremost reproductive health organization, the impact of this decision on my children, community and the patients I advocate for every day is gut-wrenching. 

The research is clear: when people are unable to control their own reproductive futures, it impacts every aspect of their lives. They face increased rates of life-threatening complications like eclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage. They are more likely to experience poverty, face eviction, and stay in contact with a violent partner. 

I have raised my children to believe that they have the right to make decisions about their own bodies and futures. Knowing that the U.S. Supreme Court will no longer uphold that right is terrifying. My daughter, and millions of Americans, are now at risk of not only being denied the health care they need, but facing a domino effect of intersecting oppressions as a result.

But I won’t sit back and let that fear paralyze me. It fuels me. Personally and professionally, it is my duty to fight. Here in Michigan, we did just that. We turned out in record numbers to pass Proposal 3 and secure Michigan’s status as a haven state. But our work is not done. 

Decades of anti-abortion restrictions remain on Michigan’s law books, including a state-mandated 24-hour waiting period, bans on insurance coverage of abortion, restrictions that force young people without a safe and supportive parent to go before a judge before accessing abortion, and TRAP laws that seek to shut down abortion providers by imposing costly building requirements that dictate everything from room size, to doorway widths, to HVAC systems. These medically unnecessary restrictions limit the availability of abortion providers, increase wait times, and push care out of reach for far too many people. 

As states across the country, including our neighbors in Ohio and Indiana, pass near-total abortion bans, Michigan must rise to meet the moment. We cannot allow abortion to be a right in name only. We must do the work to ensure every person – no matter their ZIP code, income, or identity – can make their own decisions about their health, families and futures. 

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.