LANSING — Medical professionals across Michigan today released a letter urging leaders in the state to work to protect and strengthen abortion accessibility. The letter comes on the anniversary of Roe v Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, which established the constitutional right to an abortion.
“Abortion is a safe, important and a sometimes necessary part of health care that all Michiganders should be able to access when they need,” said Dr. Naysha Varghese, a Family Physician in Macomb. “Roe v Wade has been the law of the land for nearly five decades now, but attacks on the right to an abortion compel us to do all we can to protect access in order to ensure the health and well-being of our patients. We call on Michigan’s leaders to make sure abortion remains legal, and is affordable and available across our state.”
The letter highlights the fact that Michigan still has an antiquated 1931 law on the books that criminalizes abortion in the state, though it’s not been enforced since the landmark Roe v Wade ruling. With a decision pending from the Supreme Court on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which could overturn Roe v Wade, the doctors emphasized that leaders should take action straightaway to keep abortion legal and accessible in Michigan no matter what.
“Our elected officials need to treat abortion as what it is — health care — and ensure that all residents, wherever they live, whoever they are, however much money they make, can access it,” said Dr. Judith Suess, a retired Family Physician in East Lansing. “People need abortions for a variety of reasons, as I’ve seen firsthand in my years as a physician. There was the patient who had three children under the age of 10; she and her husband were doing well being treated with methadone for their opioid use disorder. When she couldn’t cope with another pregnancy, she got an abortion. Or the single mom who was a refugee, already struggling to provide for her daughter who sought an abortion when she realized it was a safe and normal procedure. Everyone in Michigan should be able to obtain guidance and care for an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy, and we must work together to protect that access.”
Signers of the letter are included here. The full text is included below:
Protect patient access to full range of reproductive care on Roe v Wade anniversary
As health care professionals, we urge policymakers across Michigan to protect patients’ access to the full range of reproductive medical care, which includes abortions. While the U.S. Supreme Court weighs the fate of whether a person will continue to enjoy a constitutional right to an abortion, policymakers can act now to guarantee this access.
We commemorate the anniversary of the Roe v Wade ruling because it protected the constitutional right to an abortion nationwide. As physicians in the reproductive health sphere, we know how critical access to safe, legal abortion is for people’s health, both physical and mental.
Unfortunately, the State of Michigan has a law on the books still from 1931 that criminalizes abortion. Should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v Wade, this antiquated law could have very real consequences for our patients and people statewide.
Pregnancy changes a person’s physiology. These changes can include worsening existing diseases and medical conditions. Pregnancy is a risk factor for people who have had multiple miscarriages and who risk serious complications every time they get pregnant. People who may have just gotten diagnosed with a serious medical condition and for whom continuing with their pregnancy may be dangerous should also have the choice of considering an abortion.
Beyond medical necessity, life circumstances are also factors that may compel a person to choose an abortion, including mental illness, homelessness, siginificant financial constraint. And, of course, many people simply do not wish to be pregnant.
Abortion restrictions disporportionately affect those who have limited resources or already face barriers to overall medical care, including low-income and poor people, residents in rural areas, and Black, Indigenuous and minority populations. Additionally, denying access to abortion from people who want one can adversely affect their health, safety and economic wellbeing, including delayed separation from a violent partner and increased likelihood of falling into poverty by four times.
For these reasons and more, we urge you to protect a person’s right to an abortion, including surgical, medication and self-managed abortions. Regardless of a person’s background, patients going through pregnancy deserve to know all the choices they have so they can make the best decisions for themselves.
About the Committee to Protect Health Care
The Committee to Protect Health Care is a national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals, and advocates who are building a pro-patient health care majority in Congress and in states so that we can live in an America where everyone has the health care they need to thrive. To learn more: www.committeetoprotect.org