BHSH System reversed course Saturday after blowback from a previous decision to ban abortion at its 22 hospitals a day earlier.
Michigan’s largest health system had previously said Friday in a memo to employees it planned to follow a 1931 abortion ban on Michigan that is currently on hold under a judge’s injunction. That court order means abortion remains legal in Michigan even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday.
But after immediate backlash, BHSH said in a statement posted late Saturday on its website that its thinking has “evolved.”
“After extensive evaluation and in-depth discussion, and always using compassion as our guide, we have evolved our approach,” the company said in a memo dated for Sunday, but sent to Crain’s Detroit. “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.”
The announcement Saturday marked a second step back from the health system’s initial statement.
In a second memo late Friday, CEO Tina Freese Decker indicated the legal ambiguity of the current abortion law in the state was the reason for abiding by the 1931 law that was not in effect.
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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and others have stated several times that abortion is legal under the injunction.
The three memos came within a day-and-a-half of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning the longstanding precedent of Roe v. Wade that protected abortion rights for all women in the country. Michigan would have reverted to the strict 1931 law banning, but a Michigan Court of Appeals judge last month placed a temporary injunction on it that prevented it from being triggered after the Supreme Court ruled.
In February, Spectrum Health merged with Beaumont Health to form BHSH Health, the largest health system in the state. The health system is not affiliated with a religious organization that would bar it from offering abortion care, such as the Catholic health systems Trinity Health or Ascension Michigan.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain’s Detroit Business.
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