House panel mulls bill requiring medical providers to give anti-abortion information

By: - June 24, 2021 1:19 pm

Demonstrators hold banners in an abortion rights rally outside of the Supreme Court as the justices hear oral arguments in the June Medical Services v. Russo case on March 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. | Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The House Health Policy Committee held a hearing Thursday morning on a bill that would require medical providers to provide anti-abortion information and offer abortion reversal procedures that opponents say are unsafe for pregnant people. 

The committee did not vote on the bill Thursday.

House Bill 5086, introduced by Sue Allor (R-Wolverine), also known as “The Women’s Right to Know Act,” would, if passed, require doctors to provide  information on the abortion pill reversal procedure (APR), require abortion providers to check for a fetal heartbeat prior to providing an abortion and disclose the likelihood of a miscarriage. It would create a prenatally diagnosed conditions information website overseen by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

However, opponents of the bill say there have not been sufficient studies on  APR procedures and the potential dangers for the pregnant person. 

“It has been demonstrated it is unethical to attempt to study using an abortion reversal pill,” said Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia). “People have had heavy bleeding; they’ve been hospitalized. So why would we require medical professionals to offer information about an unproven, untested and potentially unsafe course of treatment — I don’t even want to call it a course of treatment — why would they offer that up if it is so dangerous that we can’t even study it?”

Allor said that the bill does not limit or prohibit abortions in the state, but “provides educational resources to individuals who may want to have a better understanding of available options.”

Sarah Wallett, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan, opposed the bill, saying that pregnant people already have the right to know about their pregnancies and their options. 

“As a physician I have a legal professional and ethical obligation to share with my patients all of the relevant information about the range of available healthcare options,” Wallett said.

She added that bill, specifically around APR, would force her “to provide patients with information that is medically inaccurate, misleading and could be harmful to a person’s health.”

“Furthermore, requiring physicians to tell patients that a medication abortion may be reversible undermines the informed consent process, and risks misleading people seeking abortion care to believe that they do not need to be certain about their decision,”Wallett said. 

HB 5086 is the latest bill in a stream of anti-abortion bills and resolutions coming out of the House recently. 

On Tuesday, the House approved House Resolution 22 to “call for the enforcement of all laws regulating or limiting the practice of abortion,” though the resolution is not binding and does not prohibit abortions in the state.  

The next day, the House passed HB 4644 which would amend the Michigan Tax Act to give tax exemptions to a person who is 12 weeks pregnant by Dec. 31 and is under the care of a licensed physician. 

These legislation come at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges against the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established the constitutional right to abortion at least in the first trimester of pregnancy.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.