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State health department wants you to know: Plan B contraception will be legal even if abortion rights end

City of Fargo, North Dakota

Michigan's health department will begin educating residents and health care professionals on the difference between emergency contraception, sometimes called Plan B or the morning-after pill, and medication abortion.

The education effort comes in the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that overturned the federal abortion-rights protections in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian is Michigan's chief medical officer. She said the most important thing to know is that abortion is still legal in Michigan, because the state's 1931 law banning abortion is on hold, due to a judge's temporary stay.

"If it [the 1931 law] goes into effect, medication abortions are at risk and could be inaccessible to Michigan women — which is a really scary thought," Bagdasarian said. "But contraceptives and emergency contraceptives should not be affected."

She said emergency contraceptives like Plan B, or the morning-after pill, prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation. They don't cause an abortion of an embryo or fetus.

The new public effort will disseminate information about the differences between medication abortion and emergency contraception to all local health departments throughout Michigan, health care providers throughout the state, hospitals, community health clinics, university health systems, and more.

Bagdasarian said doctors, pharmacists, and other health care professionals need to hear the message too.

"This [Supreme Court decision] casts fear into physicians and the medical community and really makes them think twice about how their actions could be criminalized," she said.

The ACLU and Governor Gretchen Whitmer have asked the Michigan Supreme Court to rule that the 1931 law violates the state Constitution.

State officials said for Michiganders, the issue is settled. They pointed to a WDIV/Detroit News poll from January showing 67.3% of respondents supported the court's decision in Roe v. Wade, and 65.7% supported repealing Michigan’s dormant 1931 ban on abortion. More than 77% of respondents said they believe abortion should be a woman’s decision, the poll found.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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