Mich. House passes emergency contraception bills

Legislation moving to the state Senate would require Michigan emergency rooms to provide emergency contraception to individuals who are sexual assaulted.

Four bills, originally part of a 15-bill initiative promoted by Planned Parenthood, passed the Michigan House last week and would extend access to contraception, said state Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing.

“These are reasonable and applicable methods and laws, which would help prevent unwanted pregnancies,” said Meadows, who sponsored a bill in the package that would require crisis pregnancy centers to tell patients they do not provide information about birth control or abortion.

The bills need to gain the support of the Republican-led Senate to become law.

Other bills that passed include a bill requiring the Michigan Department of Community Health to educate the public about emergency contraception and a bill requiring all school districts to teach “medically accurate sexual education.”

Right to Life of Michigan, a pro-life nonprofit organization, initially opposed Meadows’ bill, said Ed Rivet, Right to Life of Michigan’s legislative director.

“After a variety of changes, we were neutral,” he said.

Rivet said the organization still is in opposition to bills in the package that require insurance carriers to cover contraception and don’t offer an opt-out policy for philosophical and religious objections.

Interdisciplinary studies in social science junior Chelsea Landau said the legislation is important for college women.

“If I were assaulted and found myself in the emergency room, I would not only be grateful for education (regarding) emergency contraceptive, but also for the option to take it as soon as possible,” she said.

“Hospitals should offer this option for women that have been victimized and feel that it should be taken.”

Legislation in the package still under review in the House includes initiatives to require insurance companies that cover prescription drugs to cover contraceptives and require pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception and birth control.

The Legislature began spring break March 26, and no votes will take place until they return in two weeks.

The bills were referred to the Senate Health Policy and Judiciary committees.

State Sen. Tom George, R-Kalamazoo, who chairs the Senate Health Policy Committee, said he has not yet been able to look over the package of bills and is unsure when the committee will begin discussing them.

“I am always interested in what our house counterparts are doing,” George said.

“I am happy to review these bills.”

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