Michigan’s Largest Health System said On Sunday, it will continue to offer abortions when medically necessary, reversing policy changes it announced following Friday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Following Friday’s decision, BHSH System initially told employees that the healthcare system should follow a 1931 Michigan law that only allows an abortion to save the life of the mother, according to media reports.
But on Sunday, the health system appeared to change course and said it would continue to offer abortions when medically necessary.
“After careful evaluation and in-depth discussion, and always using compassion as our guide, we have evolved our approach,” BHSH said in a Sunday. statement.
The BHSH said the legal landscape surrounding abortion in the state of Michigan is “unclear and uncertain”, pointing to the 1931 law that makes administering an abortion a crime.
The system said that until there is more clarity, it would continue to provide medically necessary abortions, as was system policy before Friday’s decision. In a message to employees, obtained by the Detroit Free Pressmedically necessary abortions were performed in the system when the mother was at serious risk or when a fetus was unlikely to survive.
Last year, about 60 medically necessary abortions were administered by the health system. “We do not and will not perform elective abortions,” BHSH added.
Amid the confusion, the BHSH urged state courts to quickly clarify the situation.
The 1931 law is not in effect in Michigan, and abortion is still legal in the state due to an ongoing court case delaying its enforcement. The 1931 law became unconstitutional following the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
The Michigan Court of Claims issued a preliminary injunction in May, barring the 1931 law from taking effect if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Anticipating the potential High Court decision, the challenge was preemptively brought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan and physician Sarah Wallet.
Michigan Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher explained in May that if Roe is overturned, “abortion will once again become illegal in Michigan except when ‘necessary to preserve the woman’s life’.”
Gleicher’s decision prevented the law from taking effect immediately by issuing a preliminary injunction.
In her decision on the injunction, Gleicher said, “After 50 years of legal abortion in Michigan, there is no doubt that the right to personal autonomy and bodily integrity enjoyed by our citizens includes the right to a woman, in consultation with her physician, to terminate a pregnancy.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, filed a movement on Friday, urging the state Supreme Court to follow through on its April lawsuit and determine whether the state constitution guarantees the right to abortion.
The confusion in Michigan underscores the complexities that health systems and providers now face as abortion access will be left to states to decide.
Suppliers from other states are wrestle with with similar challenges as the fall of Roe v. Wade uncovers laws that are still on the books that say abortion is a punishable crime.
The BHSH system was formed earlier this year as a result of the merger of Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health. The newly created entity has a significant presence in the state of Michigan, operating 22 hospitals, an outpatient unit and a health plan covering 1 million people. The combined annual revenue of the two systems is $13 billion.