Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills) testifies in support of the Fertility Health Act bill package in the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety on March 7, 2024, in Lansing.

Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills) testifies in support of the Fertility Health Act bill package in the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety on March 7, 2024, in Lansing.

Bill package to secure reproductive rights and freedoms gets committee hearing

LANSING, Mich., March 7, 2024 — State Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills) gave testimony today on the Fertility Health Care Act in the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety. This nine-bill package, House bills 520715, eliminates barriers to parentage in fertility health care, allowing Michiganders more ways to grow their families. House Democrats passed the package last year on Nov. 9 along strict party lines, when every single House Republican voted against the bills. During a time of ongoing attacks on reproductive rights and freedoms — including confusion surrounding assisted reproduction methods like in vitro fertilization (IVF) — Michigan Democrats are focused on continuing Michigan’s momentum on safeguarding access to fertility health care and are dedicated to taking proactive steps to secure Michiganders’ reproductive options.

“Fertility health care is reproductive health care, and reproductive health care is health care — plain and simple,” said Steckloff, the lead sponsor of the bill package. “The right to be a parent is as valid of a choice as a right not to be. It is important we continue to secure avenues to support a variety of reproductive choices for all Michiganders. My bill, House Bill 5207, does just that. These bills guarantee that if your reproductive choice is assisted fertility, that you have the legal right to be a parent. Together, this bill package continues to break down legal barriers that hinder reproductive choices and continues to support Michiganders’ personal freedoms.”

The Senate committee brought these bills forward only weeks after the shocking Alabama ruling that declared that frozen embryos have equal legal rights as children. This ruling jeopardizes the use of embryos for fertility treatments such as IVF. The Alabama decision has caused confusion and anxiety for patients and providers, which caused some clinics to pause IVF services.

Michigan Democrats know just how important the access to IVF is to individuals and families. IVF is a method of assisted reproductive technology, is a safe and effective form of health care that helps individuals and couples start and grow their families. In 2021, nearly 100,000 babies were born with the help of IVF.

“Michigan stands in the minority of states that require parents to go through a long and arduous process of adopting their own children born via surrogacy,” said Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “This issue was brought to my attention by constituents and I have been working to address it for years, and I’m grateful to Rep. Steckloff for championing this solution. It is high time our laws evolve to mirror the advances made in assisted reproductive technology, and we are committed to empowering Michiganders to pursue parenthood without unnecessary hurdles.”

In Michigan, children born through assisted reproduction, such as IVF, and surrogacy have no clear legal link to their parents. This legislation will address concerns to help keep families together, including same sex couples and those who choose IVF or surrogacy.

“These bills level the playing field by granting parentage rights that ‘traditional’ parents already enjoy, and guarantee children born through fertility assistance or surrogacy have access to a secure legal relationship at birth,“ said Speaker Pro Tempore Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus. “It is important that we continue to support reproductive and fertility rights in Michigan and these bills are the next step for our state — our families and their rights.”

Michigan is the only state that criminalizes paid surrogacy. Michigan’s existing law leaves many children in Michigan born through assisted reproduction or surrogacy without clear legal protection and vulnerable uncertainty regarding their legal status.

“As Chair of the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary, and Public Safety, I am happy to hold a hearing on legislation updating Michigan’s surrogacy laws to align with modern times,” said state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “This progress brings us closer to ensuring that Michiganders can fulfill their dreams of parenthood — and with more dignity and care. I look forward to continued progress on the bills.”

Michigan Democrats are focused on safeguarding Michiganders’ reproductive and fertility rights. Dems are putting people first by giving Michigander — families and individuals — the opportunity to decide when, how and if to start or grow a family.

Information about the eight remaining bills in the Fertility Health Care package can be found here.