Content Warning: This article contains mentions of sexual violence
The University of Michigan announced on Wednesday the formation of a task force in response to a potential statewide abortion ban in Michigan.
A publicized draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court indicates the court could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established a nationwide constitutional right to abortion. This ruling would leave decisions about abortion rights to each state’s discretion.
The state of Michigan currently has a 1931 law making abortion — in all cases, including rape and incest — a felony. Though the law is not currently being enforced, it could come back into effect should Roe v. Wade be overturned. This law is the subject of multiple lawsuits seeking to protect access to abortion, with one lawsuit being filed by Planned Parenthood of Michigan and another by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. A preliminary injunction was recently issued by a Michigan Court of Claims to prevent the 1931 abortion law from being enacted if Roe v Wade were overturned.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Interim University President Mary Sue Coleman discussed why the University decided to create the task force.
“The specter of a complete ban on abortion care in Michigan is worrisome,” Coleman said. “I strongly support access to abortion care. We have a female-dominated institution; we care about our own communities as well as those we serve through clinical care and education. I am deeply concerned about how prohibiting abortion would affect U-M’s medical teaching, our research and our service to communities in need.”
Coleman and Marschall S. Runge, the executive vice president for medical affairs, are leading the formation of the task force. The task force will include representatives from several U-M departments, including Michigan Medicine’s clinical teams, the Medical School, the Office of General Counsel, Human Resources and University Health Services (UHS).
According to the announcement, the task force also includes students and faculty from the LSA departments of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, the School of Information, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Library Health Sciences and more.
In an email to The Daily, Michigan Medicine Spokeswoman Mary Masson said more members will be added to the task force overtime.
“The task force includes representatives from multiple campuses, schools and colleges, and multiple facets of student, staff and faculty life,” Masson wrote. “As needs continue to be identified, the group will continue to grow.”
In the University’s announcement, Michigan Medicine Professor Lisa Harris said the task force will consider ways to mitigate the impact of federal abortion access being overturned on Michigan Medicine’s clinical training programs, which include training centered around abortion and reproductive care.
“We also need to consider the impact of restrictive abortion on the desire of faculty, staff and students to take or remain in jobs in the state or pursue education here,” Harris said.
The task force will outline reproductive healthcare guidance for clinical providers and work to establish resources for accessing out-of-state abortions that can be provided to patients and others in the campus community, per the University’s announcement.
Summer News Editor Anna Fifelski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.