Michigan’s Attack on Women’s Rights
Even at a time when extreme attacks on women’s reproductive rights and freedom are nothing unusual, a sweeping measure on a fast track in Michigan’s Republican-led State Legislature stands out.
The legislation,which cleared the State House of Representatives on Wednesday, contains several constitutionally questionable restrictions that add up to an egregious assault on safe abortion care and on the clinics that provide it. One portion of the extreme legislation seeks to shrink access to abortion care by imposing costly and unnecessary space and other requirements on all clinics that provide six or more abortions a month. Under the bill’s terms, clinics would need to be licensed as surgical centers even if they offer only medicine-based abortions that entail handing out pills and do not perform surgery.
Other provisions would forbid health care providers from following the most up-to-date medical protocol for the use of abortion-inducing drugs, which is preferred because it minimizes both side effects and costs. The measure would also bar the use of videoconferences with doctors supervising medicine-based abortions.
Bad as it is, the measure could have been even worse. At the last minute, and for reasons that are still unclear, backers of the House measure omitted a provision that would have criminalized all abortions occurring 20 weeks after fertilization, flouting the standard for fetal viability set in Roe v. Wade, without any reasonable exception for cases of rape, incest or grievous physical impairment.
This may not be the end of the matter, though. The 20-week ban could emerge again as an issue when the State Senate takes up the House-approved bill, which could happen as early as mid-July.
If Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, were to sign the measure, he would be taking part in a shameful assault on reproductive health care. It would then fall to the courts to stand up for Michigan’s women and their legal rights.