Beaumont-Spectrum Health clarifies controversial post-Roe abortion policy

June 25, 2022, 11:57 PM

Beaumont-Spectrum Health has clarified its role as an abortion provider following backlash over reported plans to discontinue performing the procedure unless a mother's life is in imminent danger.

In a Saturday statement, the state's largest hospital system indicated it previously only performed medically necessary abortions and said it would "continue" that practice. The 22-hospital system that includes the eight Beaumont units in Metro Detroit said it performed just 60 such procedures that required hospital-level care in 2021.

The statement came a day after internal memos signaled it was backing away from abortions with new guidelines.

"With the Supreme Court ruling, BHSH System's new policy and practices will follow the guidance of the Michigan 1931 law and only allow pregnancy termination when necessary to preserve the life of the woman," wrote chief executive Tina Freese Decker, according to Crain's Detroit Business.

In [a] second [Friday] memo, Freese Decker removed mention of the 1931 abortion ban and said: "Both Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health have historically performed abortions when the mother's life was at risk and BHSH System will continue to do so. ...

"There is legal ambiguity regarding enforcement due to an active challenge to the injunction, placing our physicians and clinical teams at risk of criminal liability," Freese Decker said. "This is not acceptable. We are actively seeking clarity regarding the law and enforcement at a state level and across the many counties where we provide care in our state."

In February, Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health merged with Southfield-based Beaumont Health to form BHSH Health. The health system is not affiliated as a religious organization that would bar it from offering abortion care, such as Catholic-based Trinity Health or Ascension Michigan.

Some accused the hospital system of playing politics. Spectrum Health's board was previously chaired by Dick DeVos, a prolific donor to conservative causes and groups, including Right to Life of Michigan. When he left the board last year, he was replaced by brother Doug DeVos, who has remained since the merger. 

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, criticized the hospital system's policy in a statement that said in part:

Kent County politics should not be dictating health care for my constituents in Southeast Michigan.

I call on the BHSH System to reverse this policy immediately, to continue to allow their providers to give patients the health care they are entitled to under current law, and not to circumvent the courts.

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