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PPMI Chief Medical Operating Officer Testifies in Support of Senate Bill 2

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

On Wednesday, March 15, Planned Parenthood of Michigan's Chief Medical Operating Officer Dr. Sarah Wallett testified before the Michigan House Judiciary committee, urging them to support Sen. Erika Geiss's Senate Bill 2, which would repeal Michigan's archaic "Comstock laws" that prohibit the distribution of information related to abortion and birth control.

Listen to Dr. Sarah Wallett's testimony here:

Contact your legislators and ask them to support Michigan Senate Bill 2.

Testimony Transcript:

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.

Each day, I have the honor of providing essential reproductive and sexual health care to patients across Michigan – and to patients who have traveled across the country to reach me.

I should be in a health center caring for my patients today, but once again, I’m here asking you to do what lawmakers should have done decades ago – remove outdated language from the Michigan penal code so that I can provide information and health care to my patients without fear of penalty.

As outlined by the American Medical Association in their code of ethics, withholding medical information from patients without their knowledge or consent is ethically unacceptable. Information on health should be readily available and accessible to all and no health care provider should fear sharing any information about any health condition because of outdated laws explicitly designed to limit health care options and information from people capable of pregnancy. The penal code we are talking about today was codified in Michigan almost 100 years ago, was based on misogyny and a clear lack of understanding of health and wellness as well as medical ethics and norms as they are understood today.

Abortion and contraception are essential, life-saving and life-affirming health care. And they are incredibly common and normal. One in 4 pregnant capable people will have an abortion by the age of 45. At any given time, more than two-thirds of women are using a form of contraception and more than 90% will use a form of contraception during their lifetime.

And the language of this penal code is incredibly broad: “recipes or prescriptions in indecent or obscene language for the cure of chronic female complaints or private diseases.” What is included in this? This isn’t clinical or medical language that is easily understood. Would this limit information around endometriosis or pelvic prolapse or maybe just sexually transmitted infections?

And let’s be clear – people today in 2023 don’t get health information through the mail or advertisements. They get information from the internet and Facebook and Tiktok and all of the other social media outlets. And it is essential that all people can rely on their health care providers to answer questions and provide accurate information.

Laws that specifically dictate or limit what physicians discuss during health care encounters undermine the patient–physician relationship. Physicians must have the ability and freedom to speak to their patients freely and confidentially, to provide patients with factual information relevant to their health, to fully answer their patients’ questions, and to advise them on the course of best care without the fear of penalty.

I have spent the past year in litigation, fighting to protect my patients’ right to determine their own reproductive futures and to ensure physicians like myself are not jailed for doing our jobs. And I am still here fighting for a Michigan that reflects the needs and desires of my patients and their loved ones. Michiganders made it clear that they support reproductive freedom for all in November – the individual right to make and carry out all decisions around pregnancy. To exercise that right, my patients and every Michigander needs to know they are receiving medically accurate information about all of their options from a trusted source. That trusted source is me and the other health care providers in the state who have dedicated our lives to providing ethical patient care.

On behalf of physicians and the patients who count on us for care, I urge you to remove this threat to our rights and health once and for all.

Thank you for your time.


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