Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, War on Women, Women — June 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Michigan reproductive health roundup: The good, the bad and the ugly


It’s been a mixed bag for women’s reproductive rights in Michigan this week.

Good to know people are paying attention. News about the heinous package of three fetal heartbeat bills introduced by Republican State Rep. Tom Hooker in the Michigan House quickly went national. So Michigan now has the dubious distinction of joining the ranks of some of the most extremist states in the country when it comes to anti-choice legislation.

Democratic State Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright issued a strongly worded statement on the bills, which would eliminate nearly all abortions in Michigan and require women seeking an abortion to submit themselves to humiliating and invasive medical procedures.

The attacks on women’s health coming out of this Legislature have been unrelenting, and women won’t stand for it. One of the new bills is so extreme that similar bills have routinely been ruled unconstitutional when they have been passed in other states. The other insults women by second-guessing their ability to make reasoned and informed health care decisions on their own by pressuring them to listen to a fetal heartbeat before having a medical procedure. Women don’t want the government interfering with their health care decisions, and this must stop.

Some of these bills are so over-the-top that even Right to Life of Michigan doesn’t support them. And that’s really saying something. Right to Life supports the bill requiring doctors to use ultrasound to detect a fetus’ heartbeat and “offer” women the chance to hear it. The group does not, however, support the bills that would make performing an abortion after a heartbeat is detected a crime.

But don’t for a minute think this means Right to Life of Michigan is taking a reasonable position on this. They have their eye on the long game, and simply want to make the legislation harder to appeal in court. Michigan Radio spoke to Genevieve Marnon of Right to Life of Michigan:

‘It’s not that we don’t support the package in principal [sic],’ she says, but ‘because (Supreme Court decision) Roe v. Wade is still in place, we don’t believe the heartbeat bill will stand constitutional muster.’

Marnon says Michigan still has a law on its books that makes all abortions illegal – even though court decisions have rendered that law irrelevant.

She says that law is better than Hooker’s proposal, and it would go into effect immediately if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Michigan residents and groups that support choice are riled up about the proposed legislation, so it’s certain there’s more to come on this. But the last word for now comes from Eclectablog reader mollee, who had this to say following my first post on this: “I’m for prosecuting these politicians for practicing medicine without a license.”

In the good news of the week, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied an appeal by the Michigan Catholic Conference and other Catholic organizations to block requirements that their health insurance plans provide for contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The plaintiffs claimed the mandate requiring employers to provide birth control to employees under the ACA, or Obamacare, infringed on their religious freedoms.

The court ruled that “the contraception mandate does not substantially burden the plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion because all of the plaintiffs are eligible for either an exemption from the contraception mandate or an accommodation developed by the government for certain non-profits that object to the mandate on religious grounds.”

They also rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the mandate violated their free speech or free exercise of religion rights, because the groups did not sufficiently identify what protected speech the ACA would prohibit. In addition, the ruling stated that the law was not specifically targeted against Catholic organizations.

So good news for women’s access to birth control in Michigan, which is more important than ever as the state continues to push bad legislation infringing on a woman’s right to choose, with the help of the ugly extremism of Right to Life of Michigan.