FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Engage Michigan
June 22, 2016
Women Hold Rep. John Bizon Accountable for Standing in the Way of Reproductive Justice
Issue guide shows that Rep. Bizon has taken action to restrict access to reproductive healthcare
BATTLE CREEK – Today, several women from Battle Creek hosted a press conference to hold Representative John Bizon accountable for standing in the way of reproductive justice. They presented an issue guideshowing bills Rep. Bizon has sponsored and voted on that restrict women’s access to reproductive healthcare and discussed the need for him to prioritize expanding reproductive healthcare access and working on issues that are important to voters like investing in roads and infrastructure.
“The women that we support earn low incomes and experience the greatest barriers to obtaining reproductive healthcare services,” said Valerie Whitney, program coordinator for Battle Creek Woman’s Co-op. “Our representatives should be working to ensure that all women have resources they need to make the most informed decisions about when and how to have children or not, and to be the best parents they can be, regardless of their life circumstances.”
Many low-income women lack financial resources to obtain insurance coverage and can’t afford to pay the high expenses for birth control and other services out of pocket. Public health centers like state and local health departments and Planned Parenthood affiliates are crucial in preventing unintended pregnancies and reducing the incidences of unplanned births, abortions, and miscarriages. The Battle Creek Planned Parenthood shut down in 2015, leaving many women without accessible reproductive healthcare services.
Calhoun County had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state, higher than the national average, but has been decreasing over the years. But without public health centers to provide family planning services, the rates of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth, and abortion for all women would be 31 percent higher in Michigan, and the teen pregnancy rate would be 29 percent higher.
“I’ve been a peer educator with Project TRUST, teaching my high school peers about contraceptives, for three years. I know how critical sexuality education and access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare resources are for people in our community,” said Rachel Sidnam, peer educator and Battle Creek resident. “Rep. Bizon and all our representatives in the legislature must do more to empower women to control their own reproductive decisions by expanding access to reproductive health services.”
In Michigan’s 2015-2016 legislative session, Rep. Bizon sponsored a bill to criminalize the sale of fetal tissue obtained through an abortion. He also voted to criminalize abortion coercion – an action that is already illegal – and to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against loving parents.