In an election season that’s supposedly “all about jobs and the economy”, the GOP is continuing its seemingly never-ending crusade to restrict women’s access to healthcare and abortion. Today, we turn our attention to Michigan. Republican State House Representative Bruce Rendon is currently pushing a series of three abortion-related bills through the House that, when combined, add up to “the most extreme legislation…anywhere in the country.”
These bills, HB 5711, 5712, and 5713, would have the following consequences:
- They impose new liability insurance requirements on abortion providers, require the installation of surgery rooms in clinics whether or not clinics perform surgical abortions, and enact new restrictions on the disposal of fetal remains. Ah yes, the good old TRAP Laws.
- They require a physician to be present for a medication abortion, which previously have been performed safely through telemedicine and virtual prescriptions
- Abortions would be banned after 20 weeks with no exceptions for rape, incest, or severe fetal defects such as a missing spine or brain, forcing women to carry nonviable fetuses to term (just like livestock, remember?)
The bills are moving through the legislature at an alarming pace. They were introduced on May 31st and have already been advanced to the floor for debate. The hearing, scheduled on Thursday the 7th, was attended by about 90 protestors. Their attempts to speak out against the bill, however, were denied when Committee Chair Gail Haines ended testimony after only hearing from a few people, including the spokesperson for Michigan Right to Life.
Rep. Deb Shaughnessy defended this absolutely abhorrent and unconstitutional new legislation by saying, “The unborn can’t fight for themselves…I will continue to fight for (protecting life) no matter what the Supreme Court says.”
It really boggles the mind how much more these politicians care for an undeveloped fetus than they care for the woman actually carrying it. A heartbreaking example is Jenni Lane, a resident of Ann Arbor. Several years ago, Jenni discovered at 18 weeks that the baby boy she was carrying had a severe brain malformation which meant he would be unable to survive to full-term. By the time Jenni had finished learning about the condition and speaking with medical professionals, and had come to the conclusion to terminate her pregnancy, she was at 21 weeks. Because the Republicans had yet to get their hands on abortion laws, she was able to go through with the procedure; if these bills pass, women like her will be forced to carry their babies to term knowing they will be stillborn or die shortly after birth.
Despite the fact that getting an abortion is still a constitutional right for all women, 92 new abortion restrictions were enacted across the country in 2011, and eight (Republican-dominated) states have enacted 20-week abortion bans.
There really are no words that I can think of that would adequately convey my disgust with these politicians. They love to give speeches about how they care about what’s best for women and are crusading for the rights of someone who cannot fight for themselves (in this case, a clump of cells); yet no one who hears a story like Jenni’s can possibly believe that such restrictive laws are beneficial to anybody. The Republicans have one goal in mind that they are pursuing without considering anything but their own warped and misguided morals, and it has nothing to do with creating jobs or helping the economy. It has to do with preventing women from being able to make any of their own choices when it comes to their health. It has to do with combining religious zealotry and faux-science into legislation that will do nothing but lead to both physical and mental health problems for this country’s women. It is clear that they will stop at nothing to ensure the complete elimination of abortions and any health centers that provide them.
If women across the country don’t stand up and demonstrate through voting that this is intolerable and unacceptable, I can only imagine how much worse things are going to get.