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Dr. Wallett Asks Michigan Legislature to Expand Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to Protect Abortion

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

On Wednesday, March 15, Planned Parenthood of Michigan's Chief Medical Operating Officer Dr. Sarah Wallett testified before Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety committee, urging them to support Sen. Erika Geiss's Senate Bill 147, which would amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination against people who have had abortions.

Listen to Dr. Sarah Wallett's testimony here:

Testimony Transcript:

Hello and thank you for inviting me to speak today. My name is Dr. Sarah Wallett. I am the Chief Medical Operating Officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan. I am a physician, an obstetrician-gynecologist and a proud provider of sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion.

I am here today to ask you to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and ensure that the patients I care for can make deeply personal decisions about their pregnancies, families and reproductive health care without fearing that they will lose their jobs, be denied housing, or be kicked out of school.

One in four women will have an abortion before they are 45. Each one of them is facing a unique set health, relationship, family, and other circumstances that inform their decisions.

One comprehensive study showed that 74% of abortion patients said that continuing the pregnancy would interfere with their ability to work, attend school or care for dependents.

73% say that they cannot afford a baby now.

And nearly half say they did not want to be a single parent or that their relationship with their partner was in trouble.

59% of them are already parents. And 40% said their families were complete.

I hear these reasons from my patients every day - and so many more. I recently cared for a teenager who was waiting expectantly to hear if she was accepted to her college of choice - I hope she got in. Yesterday, I had a patient share photos of her beautiful children with me - and we talked about the challenges of working full time and being a parent.

I have the privilege of hearing these stories as part of the patient-physician relationship. But a person shouldn’t have to share their life story for us to understand that discrimination for any reason is wrong.

Whatever factors go into a person’s decision to end a pregnancy, it is certainly none of their boss’s business. It’s not their landlord’s business. It’s not their school’s business.

It is a private health care decision.

Employers, landlords and schools should not have an open invitation to speculate on the health care decisions of their employees, tenants or students.

And let’s be clear - there is no clinical way to figure out who has had an abortion versus a miscarriage.

Having an abortion has no impact on someone’s ability to perform a job, receive an education, or live in a home. Frankly, the fact that this could even be up for debate is ridiculous.

Abortion is health care. Period.


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