Beaumont-Spectrum backtracks on abortion stance after ‘Roe v. Wade’ decision

The state’s largest health system sends mixed messages about abortion

Jun 27, 2022 at 2:30 pm
Beaumont Health is the largest health system in Michigan. - Beaumont Health
Beaumont Health
Beaumont Health is the largest health system in Michigan.

BHSH Health, the state’s largest health system, flip-flopped on whether it will perform abortions following the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The 22-hospital system, which is a merger of Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health, initially said it would stop performing abortions unless the mother’s life is in imminent danger.

In a memo to staff on Friday, BHSH President and CEO Tina Freese Decker said the hospital would follow the state’s 1931 law that bans abortion, even though that law is not yet enforceable and could be struck down.

The hospital system reversed course the following day and said its hospitals will perform abortions “when medically necessary.”

"After extensive evaluation and in-depth discussion, and always using compassion as our guide, we have evolved our approach," BHSH said in a statement. “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."

In a memo shortly after the Supreme Court ruling on Friday, Freese said the hospital would not perform abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk.

“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,” the memo states.

The fate of the abortion ban will likely be decided by a court. A Michigan Court of Claims judge issued a preliminary injunction against the law last month in response to a Planned Parenthood of Michigan lawsuit that argues the state's constitution protects abortion rights.

Judge Elizabeth Gleicher said Planned Parenthood is likely to prevail in its lawsuit.

Henry Ford Health said it will continue to provide abortions.

“As medical professionals, we have pledged to provide comprehensive healthcare to our community, and aborting a pregnancy is sometimes part of the care we offer,” the hospital system wrote on its website.

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