Drawing of female reproductive system with judge's gavel and stethoscope.

Messing Up Just One Form Causes Hundreds of Michigan Patients to Lose their Abortion Appointments Every Month

There's always one more hurdle between patients and care

In our post-Roe v. Wade America, Michigan has been able to maintain stronger abortion and other reproductive rights than many other states. This is largely because voters passed Proposition 3 last November, enshrining the right to reproductive freedom, explicitly including abortion, into the state’s constitution.

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However, as one would expect in a purple state, Michigan still has several unnecessary barriers between abortion care and those needing it, including preexisting laws requiring unnecessary paperwork hurdles and a 24-hour waiting period. A new bill in the state legislature seeks to remove a needlessly confusing step from the abortion process, but some lawmakers are saying no.

Michigan has a law requiring that abortion patients review sometimes troubling informational materials and then wait at least one day before undergoing the pregnancy termination procedure. This isn’t unique. In fact, 33 U.S. states currently have some version of this 24-hour waiting period law on their books. However, an unnecessarily confusing barrier to care that providers are saying causes hundreds of abortion patients to be turned away each month is a single online form that must be printed and signed 24 hours before the appointment. 

Dr. Halley Crissman, an OB-GYN and abortion provider in Michigan, told NPR that the state law requiring patients to follow a series of links to multiple websites in order to print and sign a form 24 hours before their appointment, unfortunately, results in patients being denied care in her clinic every day. “Try to figure out what you’re supposed to print. See if you get it right,” Crissmans said to an NPR reporter. “Because every day, I see patients who’ve driven five hours for abortion care. And they haven’t gotten it right.”

NPR also reported that mistakes with the consent form cause about 150 abortion appointments to be canceled per month at Planned Parenthood of Michigan alone. There are at least eight other independent abortion clinics in Michigan. What generally happens is either the automatically generated timestamp for when the patient clicks the “finish” button on the form is not a full 24 hours before their appointment, or the patient does not bring a hard copy because, excuse me, how many people even own printers anymore? The practitioners are powerless to grant care, even though that might mean increased risks and problems with the mother’s health if the patient hasn’t correctly completed the paperwork. 

The Reproductive Health Act, helmed by Michigan Democrats, would, among other things, remove the paperwork and waiting period hurdles from Michigan abortions. However, the Dems do not currently have the necessary votes to push the Act through the legislature, as Democratic State Representative Karen Whitsett is going against party lines and has voted against the bill.

(featured image: Getty Images)

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Cammy Pedroja
Author and independent journalist since 2015. Frequent contributor of news and commentary on social justice, politics, culture, and lifestyle to publications including The Mary Sue, Newsweek, Business Insider, Slate, Women, USA Today, and Huffington Post. Lover of forests, poetry, books, champagne, and trashy TV.