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Legislature’s Interference With Women’s Health Care Decisions Puts Lives At Risk

Michigan Nurses Association Press Release, 6/14/12

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Bills on reproductive health are political ploy that endanger patients

The Legislature’s restrictions on women’s ability to make their own decisions about their reproductive health do the exact opposite of their stated intention to increase safety, the Michigan Nurses Association said today in condemning this week’s passage of legislation in the state House.

“If legislators care about keeping women safe, what they would do is protect women’s medical options and their right to make their own decisions in collaboration with their health care providers,” said Debra Nault, an OB-GYN nurse for 35 years, including almost a decade as a midwife, and MNA’s associate executive director of Nursing Practice.

“Pregnancies are unpredictable and things can go wrong suddenly; with fewer options and lack of access to care, women may suffer more infections, increased bleeding complications, and more life-threatening situations.

"After more than three decades of working with female patients including pregnant women, I can say with certainty that the dangers for women will dramatically increase if politicians are allowed to take medical options away from women and their health care providers.”

In all situations, the Michigan Nurses Association supports the right of every patient to make his or her own health care decisions with consultation and support from qualified health care providers.

The bill passed by the House this week (HB 5711) severely restricts access to reproductive services across the state and has been called some of the most extreme legislation in the nation. That bill now goes to the Senate.

The Michigan Nurses Association urges the Senate to reject this bill and the House not to take up further pieces of this extreme package, including HB 5713, which prohibits women from terminating a pregnancy after 20 weeks with the sole exception of the mother’s life being in danger.  

Nault said that in addition to the fact that pregnancy risks are unpredictable and may be difficult to diagnose, forcing a woman to prolong her pregnancy with a dead baby inside her can lead to complications, infection and other threats to her health.   

“As a nurse, I’m distraught to think that women who have to make these very difficult decisions about the health of themselves and their children will no longer have access to proper care,” said Katie Oppenheim, an RN at the University of Michigan who has worked in women’s health for 34 years, including labor and delivery.  

"There is shock throughout the whole health care community that politicians would impose their values on Michigan families like this. I’ve been asked, ‘What’s next, will we have to ask the government if we can get a hysterectomy?’ It makes no sense for politicians to make these health decisions for women. No sense at all.”

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The Michigan Nurses Association represents more than 10,000 registered nurses statewide, advocating for them and their patients.

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