House Democrats prioritize safeguarding individual rights
Lawmakers pose at the signing of Reproductive Health Act bills on Nov. 21, 2023, at Schoolcraft College in Livonia.
LANSING, Mich., Feb. 8, 2024 — For the first time in 40 years, Democrats gained control of the Legislature and the governor’s office last year. With majority, they led a remarkably productive year, passing and signing into law a historic number of bills. A significant number of those laws go into effect on Feb. 13. In order to celebrate with and inform Michiganders, Dems are rolling out the Countdown to a Better Michigan project. Each day leading up to Feb. 13, they are sharing about a different set of legislation soon becoming law. Included are laws to ensure all Michiganders’ rights and freedoms are equitably protected. As champions for equality, Dems take the duty to ensure state laws protect the rights of our residents very seriously and have delivered on their promises to the people of Michigan.
A right is not a right if it can’t be exercised. LGBTQ+ Michiganders are not truly protected if they cannot live freely without fear of retribution. Last year, Michigan Democrats passed Senate Bill 4 (Public Act 6), including discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA). Additionally, House Bill 4616 (Public Act 117) and House Bill 4617 (Public Act 118) were passed to ban conversion therapy of minors. Michigan should be a place where everyone can live as their authentic selves.
“In order for Michigan to succeed as a state, we need to be a place where people feel welcome and are free to live and love as they choose,” said state Rep. Jason Hoskins (D-Southfield), sponsor of House Bill 4617. “It’s an honor to be part of keeping Michiganders safe from discrimination and harmful mental health practices. Hate has no place in Michigan.”
House Democrats responded to the will of the voters who passed Proposal 3 of 2022, by removing the state’s 1931 abortion ban from the books with House Bill 4006 (Public Act 11). They also passed the Reproductive Health Act, House Bills 4949, 4951 and 4953–56, alongside Senate Bills 474, 476 and 477 (Public Acts 202-209 and 286), a bill package that eliminates medically unnecessary and politically motivated barriers that obstruct access to abortion.
“All individuals have a fundamental right to reproductive health care, including abortion, that is affordable and accessible. This past year is a testament to the importance of protecting fundamental freedoms for Michiganders. I introduced legislation that repealed the archaic 1931 criminal abortion ban, and we implemented the Reproductive Health Act,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus. “People deserve to make personal decisions without government interference or systematically enforced stigmas. Dems have continued to find ways to protect personal rights and freedoms, and the fight is not over yet.”
While some legislators and anti-choice groups attempt to dismantle individuals’ ability to make their own choices, House Democrats are committed to defending these rights. People’s bodily autonomy is their own.
“As a parent, it is important to me that we’ve passed legislation reaffirming our kids’ freedoms and abilities to make decisions about their own bodies. We have seen state governments around the country violate the most basic dignity of their citizens, tearing away their ability to make personal decisions about their own lives. In Michigan, House Democrats rejected these reactionary attacks on women and the LGBTQ community. Our state is stronger when residents can live their lives freely in the ways that work for them without government interference or coercion by the threat of discriminatory treatment,” said state Rep. Natalie Price (D-Berkley), secretary of the Progressive Women’s Caucus.
Updating Michigan law to better protect personal freedoms reflects what Michiganders want — leaders who are proactive in standing up for these rights. On abortion, reproductive health care providers and civil rights leaders have reiterated that legislators cannot back down from safeguarding access to care.
“My patients deserve the freedom to make the sexual and reproductive health care decisions that are right for themselves, their families and futures,” said Dr. Sarah Wallett, chief medical operating officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan. “We’re grateful that several harmful restrictions will officially end next week, removing many of the politically-motivated barriers that have prevented patients from reaching our doors, and we’re eager for the opportunity to better meet the needs of all people, including Black, LGBTQ, low-income and rural Michiganders – all of whom face additional barriers to accessing care.”
“We are grateful to our lawmakers for passing critical legislation last year that removes harmful barriers to abortion access,” said Merissa Kovach, legislative director, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. “The Reproductive Health Act is part of our continued fight to ensure everyone — no matter who they are, where they live or how much money they have — has access to abortion care. Michiganders voted overwhelmingly to pass Proposal 3, which enshrined the right to make reproductive health decisions, including abortion, in our state constitution. The Reproductive Health Act brings us one step closer to fulfilling the promise of Proposal 3.”
As these new laws take effect, Michigan Democrats underscore their commitment to safeguarding personal rights and freedoms, and they will continue moving forward in that commitment this year. Our focus remains on ensuring that Michiganders have the freedom they deserve to make the decisions that make sense for themselves and their families. We are committed to ensuring every Michigander has the protections they need to thrive, in this generation and the next. For more detailed information on these transformative policies, please go to HouseDems.com/countdown.