Advance Notice: Briefs

‘Reproductive care is health care’: Doctors, nurses react to Roe overturned

By: - June 24, 2022 2:33 pm

Hundreds rally at the state Capitol for the MI Body MI Choice event on Oct. 2, 2021 | Allison R. Donahue

After six of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled Friday to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, health care providers in Michigan fear what this could mean for the safety and well-being of pregnant people. 

“Reproductive care is health care, plain and simple, and access to health care is a fundamental human right. The danger to people’s lives – especially people of color and those with low-incomes – is very real without full safe and legal access to care,” said Jamie Brown, president of the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA). 

The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA), which consists of nurses elected by members across the state, voted Friday to affirm its support for reproductive health freedoms.

“MNA agrees with the majority of Michigan residents who believe that people should be able to decide the best course of action for their own health and well-being; health decisions should be made by patients in conjunction with their healthcare provider, not restricted by the government,” Brown said in a statement. 

Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban, which would make all abortions illegal except to save the life of the “pregnant woman,” is still on the books but is currently unenforceable after Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher ordered an injunction in the Planned Parenthood lawsuit. The enforcement of the ban is paused until the court makes a final decision in the case.

Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Gov. Gretchen both filed separate lawsuits in April to block enforcement of the state’s 1931 felony abortion ban. Whitmer’s lawsuit also aims to recognize the right to an abortion under the state constitution.

There is also the Reproductive Freedom for All (RFFA) ballot initiative which is aimed at protecting reproductive freedom and Michiganders’ right to make and carry out decisions relating to pregnancy, including abortion, birth control, prenatal care and childbirth before voters. 

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive | Screenshot

Decisions about whether to end or continue a pregnancy should be made by a woman with the counsel of her family, her faith and her doctor – not politics. As a physician, I know that the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn nearly half a century of precedent protecting safe, legal abortion violates the trusted relationship between a patient and their doctor,” Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state’s chief medical executive, said in a statement Friday.

Sean Valles, the director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Justice within the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, said his key ethical concerns following this ruling is the impact on maternal mortality, criminal prosecution of providers and potentially patients, and how this decision will set women back in their education and career. 

“The U.S. already has pregnant people dying of pregnancy-related complications at nearly four times the rate of other wealthy countries, with non-Hispanic Black pregnant people having a rate that’s more than twice as bad,” Valles said. 

Bagdasarian said that in places where abortion is illegal, pregnant people “are more likely to undergo unregulated procedures that can jeopardize their future reproductive health and in some cases be life threatening.”

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered 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.