Advocates blast Michigan Republican for floating birth control ban

(Photo via Michigan House Republicans)

By Michigan Advance

February 21, 2024

BY JON KING, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—First, he wanted to ban transgender health care for adults and children, and now has speculated about wanting to ban a form of health care used by hundreds of thousands of Michigan women.

On Saturday morning, state Rep. Josh Schriver (R-Oxford) reposted to his Twitter account a statement by billionaire Elon Musk saying hormonal birth control “makes you fat, doubles risk of depression & triples risk of suicide. This is the clear scientific consensus, but very few people seem to know it.”

Despite the fact that there is not a “clear scientific consensus” that those increased risks are caused by the hormonal treatments, Schriver then responded by saying that, “If doctors are sworn to “do no harm,” then lawmakers should look into banning hormonal birth control.”

Schriver is one of a growing number of Republicans who has criticized contraception.

A message seeking comment from Schriver has not been returned, which has been the case since his participation in a Jan. 26 online forum in which he asked about the “end game” of prohibiting gender-affirming care for everyone, regardless of age, as well as his promotion of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that got him stripped of his House committee assignment, as well as his office staff and funds. Schriver remains a member of the House GOP caucus.

The House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) announced last year that GOP former Gov. Rick Snyder and businessman Bill Parfet will head up the caucus’s fundraising committee for the 2024 election cycle. The Advance last week reached out to both Snyder and Parfet for comment on Schriver’s posts that House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) and others have criticized as “racist,” but they were not returned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 65.3% of women aged 15 to 49 use some form of contraception. Of those, approximately 27.6% use a device or method that utilizes hormones, whether its an oral contraceptive (14%), a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) such as an IUD or implant (10.4%), or receive a shot or wear a patch (3.2%). Using U.S. Census data from 2020, that could mean nearly 400,000 Michigan women could potentially be using some form of hormonal birth control.

But according to Dr. Farhan Bhatti, a family physician in Lansing and the Michigan Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, that only represents a baseline of patients who use hormonal contraceptives.

“It’s unbelievable that in this day and age, Rep. Schriver has to be told that contraception is a safe and absolutely critical component of health care for many people, protecting both their bodily autonomy and their health,” Bhatti told the Michigan Advance. “More than protecting against pregnancy and its complications, contraception is also used as medication to treat a wide array of health conditions that cause painful menstrual periods as well as heavy or abnormal uterine bleeding.”

Bhatti said that any effort at the state or federal level to interfere with personal reproductive health care would put Michiganders’ health and freedom at risk.

“Michigan voters spoke loudly and clearly in 2022 when they said they don’t want politicians making their personal medical decisions — and lawmakers should listen,” he said, referencing the double-digit passage of Proposal 3 which not only codified the right to abortion in Michigan’s constitution, but also all decisions about pregnancy, including prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, miscarriage management and infertility.

Doctors from across the country, including Michigan, have already spoken out about the dangers a federal abortion ban like that being proposed by Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, would have, even in states like Michigan that have codified those protections into their constitutions.

However, when the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion said the high court should reconsider many of the precedent-setting cases that used the same logic applied in Roe, including the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut ruling that recognized married couples’ right to use contraception.

That alarmed Democrats enough that while they were still held the majority in the US House of Representatives, they voted in July 2022 to approve legislation protecting that right, but couldn’t get the 60 votes needed in the Senate to move past that chamber’s legislative filibuster, thanks to U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

At a GOP attorney general candidate forum in 2022, former House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt), state Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp) and Kalamazoo-based attorney Matthew DePerno, who went on to win the nomination, indicated they thought the case was wrongly decided and violated states’ rights.

“We need to start defending state rights as attorney generals, across this country,” DePerno said. “Too many people, even in our own party, too many people have lost the idea of what states’ rights means. They haven’t read the works of our Founding Fathers. They haven’t read The Federalist Papers. They continue to push the idea that we need to give rights away to the federal government. We don’t. We need to take state rights back. We need to stand in our borders. When the feds come and try to take our rights, we need to stand as citizens in Michigan and hold the line and protect states’ rights.”

DePerno lost the general election to incumbent Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat.

Following the forum, Rep. Felicia Brabec (D-Pittsfield Twp.) and other Democrats introduced a resolution affirming the Griswold decision, but majority Republicans didn’t take it up.

In 2022, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration also announced that pharmacists in Michigan are able to prescribe self-administered hormonal birth control.

Ashlea Phenicie, chief advocacy officer of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, says Michiganders want the freedom to decide if or when to grow their families, not politicians.

“Rep. Schriver is part of a small but dangerous minority who want to take away our freedom to access sexual and reproductive health care — including birth control, abortion and fertility treatments like IVF [in vitro fertilization] — and his comments show just how utterly out-of-touch he and other anti-freedom politicians are from their own constituents,” Phenicie told the Advance. “His comments are a reminder of the importance of electing representatives who will fight to expand our access to reproductive care, so everyone has the freedom to decide the care that is best for themselves, their families and their futures.”

READ MORE: Michigan Republican faces sanctions for spreading racist conspiracy theory

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license. 

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