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Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks to reporters in Lansing, Michigan, following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address on Jan. 24, 2024. (Photo by Andrew Roth/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

On Feb. 6, the global legal advocacy group the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims on behalf of Northland Family Planning Centers and Medical Students for Choice, challenging three of the state’s restrictions on abortion.

The suit seeks to remove the mandatory 24-hour waiting period before a patient can obtain abortion care, mandatory counseling about the potential risks of the procedure and information about so-called abortion reversal, and a rule that prohibits advanced practice clinicians, such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants, from performing abortions.

In its preliminary statement, the suit reads: “Michiganders have a fundamental right to abortion guaranteed by their state constitution. … In this case, abortion providers and advocates challenge three abortion restrictions that run roughshod over these constitutional guarantees.”

The suit’s defendants include Marlon I. Brown, the acting director of Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs; Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Nessel, a Democrat, has expressed her support for removing the restrictions.

In November 2022, Michigan voters passed Proposition 3, known as the Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative, approving an amendment that enshrined the right to abortion care in the state Constitution. The suit cites the amendment, which states, “Every individual has a right to reproductive freedom, including the right to make and carry out pregnancy-related decisions such as those concerning prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management, and infertility care.”

“Michigan voters spoke loud and clear when they voted to enshrine reproductive freedom into Michigan’s constitution,” Nessel said in a statement published on Feb. 27. “It is only right that the Court issues this preliminary injunction in accordance with the protections now in place following the recent enactment of Proposal 3.”

Nessel added, “I remain steadfast in my commitment to ensuring that the women of Michigan receive the healthcare services and reproductive health freedoms they need.”

Nessel has expressed her support for removing the three legal hurdles to abortion care. In a response to the suit, the attorney general asked that the court limit any preliminary injunction to just the specific provisions of the three laws in question, arguing that the lawsuit appeared to be seeking to enjoin enforcement of the laws themselves.

Rabia Muqaddam, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement the day the suit was filed: “When they voted overwhelmingly for the RFFA, the people of Michigan sent a clear message that they want reproductive freedom to be protected to the utmost degree under their state constitution. … With this lawsuit, we hope to eliminate archaic and harmful restrictions that are outright contrary to the RFFA and help ensure the state’s laws reflect the will of Michigan voters.”

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