In the months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the number of women flocking to Michigan for abortions jumped by 1,100 from the year prior.

Michigan health officials documented the 66% increase in out-of-state patients through required annual reporting that has tracked abortions in the Great Lakes State for more than four decades, recording patents’ ages, marital status, age of fetus, type of procedure, complications and other factors.

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But a largely overlooked provision in a “Reproductive Health Act” approved by Democrats last year will do away with the requirement, despite warnings from health professionals about the potential ramifications. Beginning this year, the state will no longer collect or publish the data.

“As a physician caring for women, I have to wonder at the audacity to name this bill ‘reproductive health.’ All of these measures you’re trying to repeal were enacted for the protection of the health and safety of women undergoing abortion in our state,” Catherine Stark, a longtime ob-gyn that directs the Crossroads Care Center in Auburn Hills, told lawmakers last August.

“While these may inconvenience the abortion provider, they do serve a purpose in allowing the public to know when a clinic is not safe, or a provider has repetitive violations of care,” she said. “Wouldn’t you want to know which abortion clinics have a high rate of complications, or which clinic has had their license revoked due to dangerous practices?

“How could you know without reporting, licensing, and inspections?”

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In addition to reporting requirements, the Reproductive Health Act that went into effect in February also repealed regulations on clinic operations, all of which were “designed to ensure safety and positive outcomes for the patient,” Genevive Marnon, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, told Bridge Michigan.

“The removal of the reporting requirements at the same time health and safety regulations for abortion clinics were removed should be of concern to any woman who walks into an abortion facility,” Marnon said.

Even abortion advocates at the Guttmacher Institute acknowledge “data collections by health departments can be useful when it’s used for public health purposes,” Guttmacher research scientist Rachel Jones told the news site, though she contends in some cases “the goal is to monitor and stigmatize health care providers and the people who are getting the abortions.”

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin and Planned Parenthood’s Sarah Wallett offered a similar assessment.

“For years, women and their doctors faced burdensome requirements when seeking abortion care that had no basis in medicine and were designed to dissuade women from accessing the care they needed,” Sutfin told Bridge.

Research from Guttmacher, which tracks abortion laws nationwide, shows 46 states and the District of Columbia require abortion providers to submit “regular and confidential reports to the state.” In only California and Maryland is reporting not required, while in New Hampshire and New Jersey it’s voluntary.

Much of that data is forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though that’s not a federal requirement.

“As important as the topic of abortion is acknowledged to be, the inadequacies in public information about the procedure and its medical, economic and social consequences remain a national scandal,” according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony’s nonprofit research and education institute. “Organizations across the ideological spectrum agree on the need for better reporting, calling our current system of uneven state data collection and voluntary national reporting ‘incomplete and out of date’ (Lozier Institute) or noting that the ‘quality and timeliness’ of data collection are variable (Guttmacher Institute).”

Michigan’s move to repeal reporting requirements will only make that dynamic worse, though Republicans in Congress are pushing legislation introduced last year to ensure taxpayers and pregnant women get the full picture.

The Ensuring Accurate and Compete Abortion Data Reporting Act of 2023 would incentivize states to report abortion data to the CDC in order to receive targeted Medicaid funding for family planning programs.

“Because reporting abortion data is voluntary, the data collected severely underestimates the number of abortions taking place. The reality is tax dollars are blindly being allocated to family planning programs without a clear picture of efficiency,” said South Carolina Republican Rep. Ralph Norman, who sponsored the legislation. “As if that’s not enough of an issue, the purpose of any family planning program is to promote health and to provide assistance to parents managing the number and spacing of their children – proactively. If a pregnancy results in an abortion for convenience, legitimate family planning has failed in its objective.”

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, sponsored the legislation in the upper chamber.

In both the House and Senate, the legislation has remained in committee since it was introduced in January 2023.