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Ann Mullen, (313) 400-8562,

June 27, 2024


DETROIT – The ACLU of Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the law firm Goodwin Procter filed a lawsuit today challenging Michigan’s ban on Medicaid coverage for abortion and related care. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of YWCA Kalamazoo, contends that the ban violates the newly enacted fundamental right to reproductive freedom in the Michigan Constitution, which voters approved as Proposal 3 in 2022.  

More than 3 million people are enrolled in Michigan’s Medicaid programs, which provide comprehensive health care services for people on low incomes. Michigan Medicaid programs provide coverage for almost all aspects of reproductive health care, including birth control, preventative care, pregnancy and childbirth care.  In recent years, Michigan has expanded Medicaid to cover postpartum care up to 12 months and is aiming to better address health disparities. However, state law prohibits Medicaid from covering abortions and related care, except in very limited circumstances.    

Michigan is a national leader in protecting and expanding access to reproductive freedom and health care, but this barrier to abortion care for Michiganders with lower incomes remains. Following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in 2022, Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed Proposal 3 to amend the state constitution and guarantee the right to make all decisions related to pregnancy, including abortion.  

YWCA Kalamazoo, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, is a Michigan nonprofit organization that is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. YWCA Kalamazoo offers financial assistance to help people pay for abortion care and related costs.  Seventy-seven percent of the clients for whom YWCA Kalamazoo provides such assistance have incomes that qualify them for Medicaid. Without the Michigan ban on Medicaid coverage, YWCA Kalamazoo could dedicate its resources to other needs faced by the people it serves. 

The lawsuit alleges that the abortion coverage ban violates the fundamental right to reproductive freedom enshrined in the Michigan Constitution, discriminates between childbirth and abortion, and discriminates on the basis of sex. The coverage ban can delay vital health care, which in turn can increase health risks although abortion is very safe and much safer than childbirth. The coverage ban also increases costs to Medicaid-eligible people. The ban results in financial hardship for those with limited income, as well as infringes on their family-planning decisions, coercing some people into carrying pregnancies to term against their will.  

The coverage ban also creates a two-tiered system: those with low incomes who must pay out of pocket to access abortion care, and those with higher incomes whose private insurance carriers now cover abortion care. The abortion coverage ban falls most heavily on those who already face systemic barriers to accessing health care and have statistically worst health outcomes, especially Black women and other people of color.  

The lawsuit, filed in the Michigan Court of Claims, requests that the court declare the abortion-coverage ban unconstitutional and order Michigan to join the 17 states that cover abortion through their Medicaid programs. 

Bonsitu Kitaba, ACLU of Michigan Deputy Legal Director, had this statement:  
“Everyone in Michigan deserves quality, dignified, and affordable health care, regardless of their sex, gender, income level or race. The Michigan Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to reproductive freedom for everyone, but the coverage ban singles out and excludes people who are Medicaid-eligible from this right. In a state that has boldly fought back against attacks on reproductive rights, this is unacceptable. We will continue to fight to ensure that abortion care is available to all.” 

Susan Rosas, YWCA Kalamazoo CEO, had this statement:  
“No one should be denied reproductive health care because of who they are and how much money they have. Empowering women and promoting maternal and child health is core to our mission. That includes doing all we can to ensure that people with low incomes have equitable access to abortion care.”  

Jennifer Fisher, partner at Goodwin Procter, had this statement: 
“Goodwin is proud to support the ACLU and YWCA Kalamazoo in this case. The current coverage ban denies Medicaid-eligible residents the ability to access reproductive health care services. We are committed to working alongside our partners to ensure the court lifts this limitation and protects the constitutional right to reproductive freedom in Michigan.” 

Click here to read the lawsuit 

Watch the press conference here