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Spectrum Health will perform abortions when medically necessary, health system clarifies

The health system has clarified their previous stance on abortion in the wake of the Roe v. Wade and "urge Michigan courts to bring clarity as quickly as possible."

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, putting power into the states' hands, Spectrum Health says they will perform abortions when it is medically necessary. 

The health system previously said they will uphold Michigan's 1931 trigger law, allowing abortions when necessary to preserve the life of the woman. 

West Michigan's largest healthcare system released a statement Friday following the US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturns Roe v. Wade, Michigan’s 1931 law regarding pregnancy termination is now in effect.

With the Supreme Court ruling, BHSH System’s new policy and practices will follow the guidance of the Michigan 1931 law and only allow pregnancy termination when necessary to preserve the life of the woman.

We are working with our physicians, caregivers, medical ethicists and legal counsel to understand the implications of the law and how we can provide the best care possible for all, while adhering to Michigan law now in effect. BHSH System is committed to providing compassionate care to our patients and their families."

On Sunday, however, the health care system released the following statement:

"After extensive evaluation and in-depth discussion, and always using compassion as our guide, we have evolved our approach. We continue to have the full support of the BHSH System Board of Directors.

At present, the current legal landscape regarding abortion in our state is unclear and uncertain. We are aware of the 1931 Michigan law. However, given the uncertainties and confusion surrounding its enforcement, until there is clarity, we will continue our practice of providing abortions when medically necessary.

We continue to believe that these decisions are both personal and private and best made between a woman and her physician. In 2021, the entire BHSH System performed approximately 60 therapeutic, medically necessary abortions that required hospital level care. We have not and will not perform elective abortions. We continue to provide 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.

We urge Michigan courts to bring clarity as quickly as possible."

Michigan is amongst some of the states with a law on the books banning abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.

However, abortion in Michigan is still legal right now. The law that would ban it statewide is temporarily suspended while a preliminary injunction makes its way through the court.

The injunction is in place as a result of a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Michigan and an abortion provider earlier this year. The suit argues the ban is unconstitutionally vague and violates the right to liberty, bodily integrity, equal protection and privacy.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer filed a motion Friday urging the Michigan Supreme Court to decide if Michigan’s state constitution protects the right to abortion.  

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