If the legislation passes, many women won’t even know they’re pregnant before it’s too late to get a legal abortion.
On the same day conservative Rep. Eric Cantor was primaried by his Tea Party candidate for being too liberal, Michigan Republicans proved just how far they’re willing to go to satisfy their extremist supporters.
Rep. Tom Hooker and 16 co-sponsors — all men, 15 Republicans and one Independent — introduced a package of bills that would make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, unless the life of the mother is at risk.
A fetal heartbeat can be detected at about 8 weeks using traditional ultrasound technology. With an invasive transvaginal ultrasound, a heartbeat could be heard at as early as the fifth week. Let that sink in: five weeks. Many women don’t even know they’re pregnant until they miss their monthly menstrual period.
The package of bills — HB 5643, HB 5644 and HB 5645, which propose amending existing Michigan laws — would ban doctors from performing abortions for women if the fetus has a detectable heartbeat. Doctors who ignored the law would face four years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Doctors would have to test for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion. If a fetal heartbeat is detected, the proposed legislation says the doctor must give the woman the option of hearing the heartbeat and “inform the pregnant woman of the probability of maintaining the pregnancy.” Well, obviously, because the legislation says the doctor can’t perform an abortion at that point.
But just in case the woman hasn’t endured enough humiliation, if no fetal heartbeat is detected the legislation would permit the doctor to advise the woman that she must undergo an additional diagnostic procedure that might detect a fetal heartbeat — or “to delay until a later date performing a diagnostic procedure to determine if the fetus is physically developing.” If a woman is in the difficult position of considering an abortion, why not make it worse by forcing her to undergo an invasive procedure like a transvaginal ultrasound (which is undoubtedly the “additional diagnostic procedure”) or keep coming back until a heartbeat is detected?
It’s infuriating, insulting and inhumane. And the proposed legislation makes it clear that Michigan Republicans — and the extremists at Right to Life Michigan who are reportedly pushing for this bill — have absolutely no regard for the lives or rights of women.
What do they care about? Effectively outlawing abortion in Michigan, even though it’s a medical procedure that has been legal in the United States since 1973. And votes. That’s what Michigan Republicans care about most: votes.
This has to stop. Instead of working on solutions to help Michigan’s citizens — like improving education or repairing our crumbling infrastructure and creating jobs in the process — Michigan Republicans just keep hammering away at women’s rights. Legislation like this does absolutely nothing to help the women and men of Michigan.
Fetal heartbeat bills have been pushed in other states. The fight is ongoing in legislatures and in the courts, and this battle doesn’t show any sign of stopping.
And now, it’s come to Michigan.
Expect to hear more from me, and many others, on this despicable legislation. If you value your voice, your vote and your right to make your own decisions about your own life, remember this in November. Virginia showed us that a very small percentage of voters can make the difference between winning and losing. We can’t let a small percentage of voters win for the extremists in Michigan. There’s just too much at stake.
[Photo credit: Mikasi | Flickr]