Coalition Works to Safeguard Health Care Access, Honor Roe

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

LANSING — Members of the Michigan House and Senate introduced a package of legislation today to remove barriers to comprehensive health care and family planning access for women. The legislation comes on the 46th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling. Under outdated statutes in Michigan state code, certain procedures regarding miscarriage and abortion, as well as contraception and other gynecological health care procedures remain illegal, despite the landmark 1973 ruling.

“For 46 years, abortion has been a safe, legal medical procedure that women and their families are free to choose,” said state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) who is spearheading the effort in the state Senate. “As fear over the future of Roe heightens throughout the country, repealing these cumbersome and outdated laws is a common-sense move for Michigan to protect women’s access to the health care they need.”

“Without Roe, Michigan would be bound by a 1931 law banning abortion, and women’s reproductive health care would revert to standards established nearly 100 years ago,” said Amanda West, Director of Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. “It is absolutely critical that we protect access to safe, legal abortion in Michigan, and repealing the ban is the way to do it.”

Members of the House also introduced House Resolution 9 to honor the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at a time when four in 10 Americans fear the ruling is at risk. With the divisive confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court last fall, recent poll respondents believe there is a 50 percent chance he would vote to overturn Roe if given the opportunity. Repealing Roe would force women to rely on illegal, back alley abortions, which in 1965 constituted one-sixth of all pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths. Today, abortion procedures have a 99 percent safety record, making it one of the safest medical procedures available to women.

“Access to comprehensive health care should never target or limit women’s health. It comes down to respecting women to make their own life choices and I am appalled that we are still adding more and more restrictions. By limiting access to safe and legal care, we are putting the lives of women at risk,” said state Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton) who is leading the package in the state House. “By repealing these unnecessary and outdated laws, we will be ensuring that women’s healthcare is just as important as everyone else’s. Today’s announcement is an important step to ensure that the women and families of Michigan are valued.” 

“We applaud Sen. Geiss, Rep. Pagan and the Progressive Women’s Caucus for standing up for Michigan women. As Catholics for social justice we believe no woman should fear prosecution for making her own conscience-based decisions over her body,” said Glenn Northern, Domestic Program Director with Catholics for Choice. “The majority of the more than 2 million Catholics in Michigan believe that women should be able to access the reproductive health care they need, including abortion, without judgment or punishment.”

Joining Sen. Geiss in sponsoring the legislation in the Senate are state Sens. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), and Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills). Introducing the bills along with Rep. Pagan in the House are state Reps. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods), Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield) and Vanessa Guerra (D-Saginaw).

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