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Whitmer and MDHHS Launch Effort to Educate Michiganders on Difference Between Emergency Contraception and Medication Abortion


July 6, 2022



Gov. Whitmer, MDHHS Launch Public Effort to Educate Michiganders, Health Care Providers on Difference Between Emergency Contraception and Medication Abortion

Both Emergency Contraception and Medication Abortion Remain Legal in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are launching a public effort to educate Michiganders and health care providers about the difference between emergency contraception and medication abortion. This public effort comes in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade, and will help combat any misinformation about the medications which serve different purposes. Unlike in many other states, abortion remains legal in Michigan following the decision in Roe thanks to a temporary injunction at the Michigan Court of Claims. Emergency contraception is legal and not subject to any changes following the decision in Roe, as it is an entirely different medication.

The new public effort will disseminate information about the differences between medication abortion and emergency contraception to all local health departments throughout Michigan, health care providers throughout the state, hospitals, community health clinics, university health systems, and more. The public effort will also provide information on availability and coverage of the different medications. Information will be provided in multiple languages.

“Women deserve to have control over decisions about their bodies and lives, and the fall of Roe v Wade is leaving many with questions about their access to health care. To make matters worse, some may take advantage of this moment to create confusion about the important differences between emergency contraception and medication abortion, which are completely different medications used for entirely different purposes. That’s why we’re launching a new public effort, giving women and families the best, most accurate information about these medications,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “It’s critical we use every avenue we can to give women access to the full range of reproductive health care, and accurate information while some push misinformation.”

“MDHHS is reaching out to health care providers to make sure they are aware they can legally continue to prescribe medication abortion and emergency contraception, different medications used for different purposes – emergency contraception used to prevent pregnancy, and medication abortion used to safely terminate a pregnancy,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “In addition, we have added information to our website about emergency contraception and medication abortion to help Michigan families understand their options and find the resources they need.”

“As a physician, I understand the importance of the trusted relationship between a patient and their doctor,” said Dr. Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Making sure all health care providers in Michigan understand what the U.S. Supreme Court ruling means for them, and their patients, is vital as they honor their oath to their patients, to their communities and to their profession. Emergency contraception is used to prevent pregnancy and is not subject to any changes in light of the decision in Roe v Wade. Medication abortion is used to safely end a pregnancy and remains legal in Michigan thanks to a temporary injunction. Both emergency contraception and medication abortion are still legal in Michigan to prescribe and to take.”

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraceptive pills, sometimes called the morning-after pill or “Plan B,” can be taken after intercourse to prevent a pregnancy, if taken within five days of intercourse. Emergency contraceptive pills are not the same medication that is used to cause a medication abortion, sometimes referred to as the “abortion pill.”

  • Hormonal contraception:  A type of birth control that uses hormones to prevent pregnancy. Not a form of abortion. Legal in Michigan. Available by prescription.
  • Emergency contraception: Contraception that can be used to prevent pregnancy after sexual intercourse. Not a form of abortion. Legal in Michigan. Available over the counter at pharmacies.
  • Medication abortion pills: Medications that can be used to end a pregnancy. Can be used at home. A form of abortion. Legal in Michigan due to a temporary injunction at the Michigan Court of Claims. Available by prescription.

Information graphic that highlights difference between emergency contraceptives and abortion pills

Flyer to explain differences between emergency contraception and medication abortion will be sent across Michigan and via social media channels.

Options for accessing emergency contraception or abortion services can be found by calling 211 or visiting the 211 website.

For additional information regarding emergency contraception, visit the MDHHS website.

For information on medication abortion visit the MDHHS website 

For information about general family planning services, please visit MDHHS’ Family Planning page.

Michigan’s Pre-Roe Ban & Injunction

The current version of Michigan’s law criminalizing abortion without exceptions for rape or incest was enacted in 1931. In 1973, the decision in Roe v Wade rendered Michigan’s 1931 ban unconstitutional and abortion became legal in the state of Michigan.

On May 17, 2022, a Michigan state judge granted a preliminary injunction in a suit brought by Planned Parenthood against Michigan’s unconstitutional 1931 law criminalizing abortion. This injunction temporarily blocks the abortion ban, emphasizing the need for Governor Whitmer’s action to permanently protect legal abortion in Michigan.

Governor Whitmer’s Lawsuit

The governor filed a lawsuit and asked the Michigan Supreme Court to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution. It also asks the court to stop enforcement of the 1931 Michigan abortion ban. The abortion ban violates Michigan’s due process clause, which provides a right to privacy and bodily autonomy that is violated by the state’s near-total criminal ban of abortion. It also violates Michigan’s Equal Protection Clause due to the way the ban denies women equal rights because the law was adopted to reinforce antiquated notions of the proper role for women in society. 

Michiganders on Abortion

For Michiganders, this issue is beyond settled. According to a poll from January 2022, 67.3% of Michiganders support Roe and 65.7% support repealing Michigan’s 1931 trigger ban on abortion. Over 77% believe abortion should be a woman’s decision. A sizeable majority of Michiganders agree that abortion is a decision to for a woman to make in consultation with a medical professional she trusts.