The pro-choice movement in Michigan has been on the defense in our state legislature for the past ten years. There has not been a single significant pro-choice bill signed into law during this period, and the pro-choice advocates have spent too much time and energy debating the intransigent issue that is abortion.

A couple of years ago, we worked with Planned Parenthood and the wider pro-choice coalition in Lansing to move the debate away from abortion and toward common sense solutions to reduce the need for abortions – solutions we believe everyone could agree upon.

We reached out to Michigan Right to Life, the Catholic Conference and our anti-choice legislators and asked them to put politics aside and work with us to make sure that Michigan citizens have the resources they need to make educated choices.

We made inroads, and as a result Michigan’s legislative pro-choice caucus worked hard to coordinate a package of bills that include policies to address issues such as:

  • promoting honest and medically accurate information about sexually transmitted disease and how to avoid unintended pregnancies;
  • access to affordable birth control;
  • building awareness about emergency contraception and mandating its availability to rape survivors;
  • expanding family planning services;
  • and ensuring that pharmacies don’t refuse to fill birth control prescriptions.

The policies outlined in this package of legislation, dubbed “Prevention First”, are based on proven methods that prevent unintended pregnancies and abortions.

This past Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, the Michigan House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Prevention First package and all except two bills, both dealing with infertility treatments, passed the committee and will go for a full vote of the House sometime in November.

We are pleased and excited at this very real chance to have meaningful pro-choice legislation passed in the Michigan legislature, but we need your help. Contact your State Representative and ask them for their vote, or thank them for their support. For more information on the Prevention First package, click here.

By Shelli Weisberg, ACLU of Michigan Legislative Director