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Medical treatment, informed consent bills receive House hearing

Main gallery of the Michigan House of Representatives
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Bills to provide more oversight during certain intimate medical exams received their first hearing before the Michigan House Health Policy Committee Thursday.

The bills would require written parental consent for a child to undergo those procedures, another professional to be in the room during them, and documentation.

Specifically, the legislation applies to any "medical treatment, procedure, or examination involving vaginal or anal penetration."

The bills respond to sex abuse committed by former Michigan State University athletics doctor Larry Nassar during exams.

Stephanie Glidden is with the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.

During her committee testimony, she highlighted language in the package requiring doctors to explain why they need to perform certain treatments.

“Often patients are at the mercy of their care providers’ expertise. They assume because the doctor says this is going to happen that it must. It is our hope that the reporting requirement will remind everyone involved that true consent must include understanding,” Glidden said.

Aside from patients gaining more protections under the package, supporters are looking to the bills as a way of ensuring accountability.

Alex Porrett is chief of staff for Senator Roger Hauck (R-Mt. Pleasant), a co-sponsor of the legislation.

Porrett said the bills could help catch behavioral patterns, like Nassar’s.

“Now, in the Larry Nassar case, I don’t think that guy would’ve necessarily documented those instances, but at least parents, investigators, and victims might’ve been able to piece together or see those red flags for the lack of documentation,” said Porrett.

The bills heard Thursday are just three of more than a dozen making their way through the Legislature to address the issue. The Health Policy Committee chair said she expects to push them to the full House floor early next month at its next meeting.

Five more Senate bills are before other House committees after passing that chamber a few weeks back.

Meanwhile, the House passed six of its own partner bills Wednesday.