Doctors express concerns over future of abortion in Michigan

NOW: Doctors express concerns over future of abortion in Michigan

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ST. JOSEPH, Mi. -- The overturn of Roe V. Wade has put medical professionals in a state of legal limbo.

Spectrum Health announced in a statement on Friday that they would be following a 1931 Michigan state law-- only allowing for abortions in cases when a woman's life is threatened by a pregnancy-- but they revised their position on Saturday, after State Representative Andrew Levin challenged their position.

Levin argued that declining to continue to provide abortion as a medical service, such as in cases when a child is not expected so survive birth or in a miscarriage, would be against the law; a temporary injunction is currently preventing abortion from becoming criminalized in Michigan.

Spectrum announced that they will continue to provide abortions as medical procedures-- but they have now asked for clarity from Michigan courts. 

It's a situation that doctors across the state are now confronting.

In a webinar hosted by the Committee to Protect health Care, OB/GYNs and emergency care physicians argued that without this clarity, it could potentially put healthcare professionals' priorities in the wrong place.

Dr. Lisa Harris, an OB/GYN at the University of Michigan, said “If we need to talk about risks and benefits of a procedure, we talk about the risks to the patient and the benefits to the patient of the procedure. But under an abortion ban, these ethical conversations are going to be the benefits of something for a patient balanced against the risks of something to a doctor.”

They also argued that limiting abortion as a medical procedure will put women at risk, particularly in scenarios when an abortion is the only treatment-- such as in an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage.

“The nuances of knowing what is going to be prosecuted and what isn’t is going to delay care," said Dr. Melissa Bayne, another OB/GYN practicing in Michigan.

Dr. Harris added “Patients may lose their life when doctors are afraid of intervening when they need to.”

While medical systems wait for clarity from the courts-- the state announced that there would be some protections in place for doctors providing abortions.

“Today, LARA, the licensing and regulation arm of Michigan’s government also came out and very clearly said that abortion care provision under the injunction is acceptable and, in fact, we should continue to provide the care that we’ve always provided," said Dr. Harris. "That is how me and my colleagues are proceeding. I can’t speak for other people, but it just shows how much fear and uncertainty is there and will impact physicians and teams’ decision making and care provision.”

Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nessel also announced that while the injunction is in place-- doctors who provide abortions will not be prosecuted. 

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