GEO stands in solidarity with all people under attack by the revocation of abortion rights due to the overturning of Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey by the Supreme Court of the United States. Our previous statement located this decision within its broader context; this statement will focus on concrete implications for GEO members and actions we can take now.

At this moment, abortion care continues to be legal in Michigan. A 1931 state law bans all abortions except to save the life of the mother. However, a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan obtained an injunction on this law, granted on May 17, because it violates the Due Process Clause of Michigan Constitution – not only its right to privacy but also to bodily integrity, and personal autonomy. 

Similarly, as of right now, GradCare health insurance continues to cover some abortions. Abortions performed by in-network providers (Level 1) or out-of-network providers for an approved off-site study or field placement (Level 2) are both covered, with $30 copays for each visit. Abortions by out-of-network providers without a referral from your PCP (Level 3) are not covered. See here for more details and materials about our insurance coverage.

However, if the injunction on Michigan’s abortion ban is lifted, abortion would be illegal in Michigan. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit, and others have pledged not to enforce the state’s abortion ban. However, our insurance would likely no longer cover in-network abortion care, leaving only coverage “as part of an approved [by Blue Care Network] off-site academic course of study or other field placement.” This requires grad workers to register with BCN, and the approval process comes with restrictions. In the case of direct Subscribers of BCN, a pre-authorization from your PCP and travel registration are required (2022 GradCare Certificate of Coverage, p27). In addition:

A Family Dependent choosing to register for out of service area coverage must reside outside of the following counties for at least three consecutive months: Genesee, Ingham, Jackson, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw or Wayne. In addition, for coverage, Family Dependents are required to receive services within 50 miles of the out of service area address registered with BCN. (2022 GradCare Certificate of Coverage, p15)

Furthermore, if the injunction is lifted, grad workers in Michigan seeking abortions would likely need to travel to Illinois, as Ohio has its own abortion ban, and Indiana and Wisconsin have medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion. In addition, UM grad workers living or working in any of the 22 other states banning abortions must travel out of state to access abortion care.

Here are some ways you can take action:

Demonstrate. As Black feminist Florynce Kennedy put it, “When you want to get to the suites, start in the streets.”

Gather signatures for the Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative. This initiativeseeks to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2022 ballot that would “ensure that all Michiganders have the right to safe and respectful care during birthing, everyone has the right to use temporary or permanent birth control, everyone has the right to continue or end a pregnancy pre-viability, and no one can be punished for having a miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.” This initiative needs 425,059 signatures by July 11! To help out, volunteer with Reproductive Freedom for All (@mireprofreedom) or AFT-Michigan (which has endorsed the initiative).

Fight for abortion access for you and your coworkers. GEO members have been working to explore ways to fight for abortion access for grad workers. Current possibilities include pushing for universal out-of-network (Level 2) coverage for abortions, with no co-pay, no reimbursement, and no 50-mile limit; an emergency reproductive health fund; and guaranteed leave for reproductive healthcare. If you would like to help fight to get you and your coworkers better access to abortion care, contact feministchair@geo3550.org.

Abortion Care in Michigan and GEO Statement on Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey