This week, the Michigan legislature introduced one of the most comprehensive packages of prevention legislation. This is not about pro-choice or anti-choice, but about reducing the number of unintended pregnancies, which account for half of all pregnancies. Shouldn’t that be the ultimate goal?

As Senator Gilda Jacobs said, these 15 bills are about basic human health rights and needs.

  • Providing access to contraception through insurance coverage will help reduce unintended pregnancy.
  • Teaching improved sex education in schools will give teens the information they need to make healthy, informed decisions.
  • Requiring insurance coverage for Pap smears, a simple test to detect and prevent cancer will keep women and their families healthier.
  • Requiring information about, and access to, emergency contraception for sexual assault victims, is a simple action that protects a woman’s basic needs. The fact that emergency care centers are not required to inform rape victims about emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy should be appalling to us all. This should be the standard of care in Michigan, as it is in many other states.
  • Requiring insurance companies to provide prescription drug coverage for birth control allows women to choose when and if to start a family. We all know that when the economy is down and women look to cut expenses, unfortunately birth control is thought by many to be a quick way to cut $50 out of a tight monthly budget. This is when unintended pregnancies occur. It is a shame that women have to sacrifice this when insurance companies should be covering it as they do other medications.

These bills are vital to all women as they provide the access we need to make better-informed decisions for ourselves that lead to a healthy life. When a package of legislation such as this is introduced, I feel hope that if we strive to get these bills passed, we can make real differences in the everyday lives of women and their families.

By Lara Chelian, ACLU of Michigan Intern