The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan applauded the State House of Representatives today for passing legislation that will help vulnerable victims of sexual assault and improve access to preventative and essential reproductive health care services and information.

“This moment is long overdue. We are pleased the legislature is finally talking about common sense solutions to reducing STDs and the need for abortions – solutions we believe everyone can agree upon,” said Sarah Scranton, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. “We should commend our elected officials for working together so that we may ensure that every woman and man in Michigan has the resources and tools to make educated choices about their health and family.”

The House passed 4 bills late yesterday afternoon, all with bipartisan support, of the 15-bill Prevention First Package (HB 5155-5165 HR 118 -120, HCR 23) introduced in both the State House and Senate in June of 2009. The bills passed were:

  • House Bill 5155: Guarantees that women who survive rape or sexual assault are offered information about, and access to, emergency contraception.
  • House Bill 5158: Requires crisis pregnancy organizations to provide pregnant women with medically accurate information and to distribute a prenatal care and parenting pamphlet prepared by the Department of Community Health.
  • House Bill 5163: Requires public schools that choose to teach sexuality education to teach a curriculum that is comprehensive, medically accurate, objective and age appropriate.
  • House Bill 5165: Requires the Department of Community Health to develop and disseminate information about emergency contraception.

“In passing these bills, the Michigan House of Representatives is helping to ensure women receive the medical attention they deserve while providing our young people with the accurate information they need to make responsible and safe decisions regarding their health,” said Shelli Weisberg, Legislative Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “This is a step in the right direction and we look forward to continuing to work with the Michigan Legislature to pass the additional bills in the Prevention First Package.”

Even after today’s success there are still 11 Prevention First bills that have not come before the full House of Representatives for a vote. The bills address numerous family planning issues that include giving women affordable access to birth control; expanding family-planning services; ensuring insurance coverage for birth control; and ensuring that pharmacies fill birth-control prescriptions. These policies are based on proven methods that prevent unintended pregnancies and the need for abortions.

In addition, studies show that the vast majority of Americans support such prevention policies. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 86 percent of Americans support access to birth control, and 86 percent of Americans support public funding for low income women’s birth control and preventative health screening. As a package, these bills not only address basic health care issues, but they can potentially save the state millions of dollars. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on family planning services in Michigan, more than six dollars is saved on social services in the first year alone.