After a series of mixed reports, Michigan’s largest health system officially changed course on its abortion stance Saturday night, saying it will continue its practice of providing abortions when medically necessary.
BHSH System’s messages came after the U.S. Supreme Court overthrown Roe v. Wade on Friday. The health system initially said it would follow the guidelines of Michigan’s 1931 abortion law — which is currently unenforceable under a temporary injunction — and only allow termination of pregnancy if necessary to preserve the pregnant person’s life.
Hours later on Friday, Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of the BHSH System, sent a second message to employees to provide “additional clarity,” which read, “We will continue to provide quality reproductive care to all women in the United States.” Michigan. Both Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health have performed abortions in the past when the mother’s life was in danger and BHSH System will continue to do so.”
Late Saturday night, the health system announced it would reinstate its practices to terminate pregnancies when medically necessary.
“After extensive evaluation and in-depth discussion, and always with compassion as our guide, we have developed our approach. We continue to have the full support of the BHSH System Board of Directors.
“Right now, the current legal landscape regarding abortion in our state is unclear and uncertain. We are aware of the Michigan Act of 1931. Given the uncertainties and confusion surrounding its enforcement, we will continue our practice of providing abortions when medically necessary,” the update said.
The health system said it continues to believe “these decisions are both personal and private and are best made between a woman and her doctor.” It said about 60 therapeutic, medically necessary abortions were performed in the BHSH system last year that required hospital-level care.
The system is a merger of Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health and Beaumont Health, which serves southeastern Michigan.
“We do not have and will not perform elective abortions. We will continue to care for women’s health, including reproductive needs. We will support our physicians and patients through a multidisciplinary, local committee as they navigate this challenging landscape,” the statement read.
“We urge the Michigan courts to provide clarity as soon as possible.”
The health system update has been sent to all employees and posted on the website Beaumont’s health and Spectrum Health websites, said BHSH system spokesman Mark Geary. When asked why the health system changed course, he referred back to the statement.
Despite Roe being reversed, abortion remains legal in Michigan — for now — due to a temporary injunction prohibiting enforcement of state law that prohibits it in all cases except to save the pregnant person’s life.
It’s unclear where courts will hear the matter in Michigan, leaving health systems, including the BHSH system, grappling with an uncertain legal landscape.
In the first employee notice obtained Friday by the Free Press, Freese Decker said: “Previously, BHSH System policies and procedures generally allowed termination of pregnancy for medical indications, such as when needed to avoid serious risks to the health of the child.” woman or in situations where the fetus is unlikely to survive.
“With the Supreme Court ruling, BHSH System’s new policies and practices will follow the guidelines of the Michigan Act of 1931 and allow termination of pregnancy only when necessary to preserve a woman’s life.”
On Twitter and in a press release received after 10 p.m. Friday, U.S. Representative Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, called on BHSH System to “immediately reverse this policy so that their health care providers can provide patients with the health care they are entitled to.” under current law, and not to evade the courts.”
“We need to be very clear: abortion is still legal in Michigan. Judge Elizabeth Gleicher issued a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the 1931 Act if Roe v. Wade was quashed,” said Levin, a member of the House Pro-Choice Caucus. decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that quashed Roe, BHSH System sent a message to all personnel that the entire system would now follow the Act of 1931.”
Late Saturday night, Levin said on Twitter: “I am grateful that Beaumont-Spectrum has changed course. We must continue to make clear that abortion services remain legal and available in Michigan, and I encourage health care providers to provide pregnant people with the full range of reproductive services.” .”
Other health systems are also making decisions or having discussions based on the new legal landscape in the wake of Roe’s overthrow.
Michigan Medicine said on its Facebook page Friday that it will continue to offer reproductive services, including abortion care. It said it mainly provides abortions to patients who need hospital-level care.
“Many of the patients we see are diagnosed with fetal anomalies or experience other complications that make ongoing pregnancy and delivery dangerous, or have serious underlying illnesses or other needs that do not allow for outpatient abortion care,” it stated. “Our commitment is to be there for those who need the specialized care we can provide.”
Henry Ford Health said in a statement that as healthcare providers, “we have an unwavering commitment to the health and well-being of those we serve, and have a responsibility to approach this issue through the lens of what is in the medical interest of our prospective patients and their families.
“Sometimes those patients are faced with heartbreakingly complex — even life-threatening — scenarios, and they turn to us as their trusted health counselors to guide — or sometimes save — them through our options in medicine. While we’ll meet whatever comes our way. laws stem from the overthrow of Roe v. Wade, our steadfast commitment to support people throughout their health journey continues.”
Contact Christina Hall: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan’s Largest Health System Reverses Course on Abortion