Whitmer directs agencies to increase protections for reproductive health care – Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a directive Wednesday requiring state departments and agencies to increase protections for reproductive health care and barring them, in some instances, from cooperating with other states or local communities investigating reproductive health care services.
The directive requires state agencies to report to the governor within 30 days about which opportunities, if any, each department has to increase protections pertaining to reproductive healthcare. 
“Whatever happens at the U.S. Supreme Court, my administration is committed to ensuring that all Michigan residents have access to safe and affordable health care, including contraception,” Whitmer wrote in her directive. “A woman’s health, not politics, should guide life-changing medical decisions.”
The directive comes weeks after Whitmer challenged a long-dormant state ban on abortions and asked the state courts to find a right to abortion in the Michigan constitution in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court possibly overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. 
The case currently is pending Oakland County Circuit Court, while a separate case filed by Planned Parenthood of Michigan in the Court of Claims last week secured a preliminary injunction stopping the enforcement Michigan’s abortion ban.
Whitmer cited these efforts and a petition drive to cement abortion rights in Michigan during a virtual appearance Wednesday before the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which is chaired by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
“We don’t know which one of these might work, if any of them, but we are pulling out all the stops,” Whitmer told the panel. “The most important economic decision a woman will make in her lifetime is whether and when to take a pregnancy to term. That’s why this is so crucial… We are going to fight like hell to protect these rights.”
Whitmer’s directive asks agencies to specifically look at ways to increase mental, physical and reproductive health choices; protect individuals’ health data; protect reproductive health care providers; and care for women going through miscarriages. 
The message also asks departments and agencies to provide the public with information on the cost and availability of reproductive health care, including contraception. 
Whitmer’s directive instructs department and agencies to decline to cooperate in any investigation led by a state or local government into reproductive health care services if the service rendered was legal in the community in which it was provided.
“I applaud Governor Whitmer for drawing a line in the sand and making clear no state of Michigan department or agency will aid in the persecution of women who would seek medical care in our state,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement.
“It is incumbent upon those of us who hold public office to exercise the full authority of our positions to extend support and protection for women in our state — and our country.”
eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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