healthcare, War on Women, Women — October 8, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Michigan legislators seek to outlaw safest abortion method for many women


By dictating decisions that should be strictly between a woman and her doctor, Republicans could put women’s health at risk.

In yet another shameful intrusion into women’s personal decisions about their health and their lives, Republicans in the Michigan House want to outlaw the safest form of abortion performed after 14 weeks. On Tuesday, October 13 at 9 a.m., the House Criminal Justice Committee will be taking testimony on a dangerous package of bills that could limit women’s access to safe, legal abortion. Voices opposing these bills need to be heard.

Regardless of your views on abortion or when life begins, these bills are reckless and could put women’s health and lives at risk.

House Bills 4833 and 4834 seek to criminalize the safest method of abortion for many women seeking care in Michigan. These bills would allow politicians to dictate how physicians perform these procedures when they are needed — forcing women to receive medical care that is not based on medical standards, is invasive and carries a significant risk to health and life.

If passed, these bills would allow unprecedented interference in a woman’s relationship with her doctor. In no other area of medical care would it be acceptable to tell a doctor he or she can’t perform the safest procedure for a patient, or in any way dictate the care a doctor provides to a patient, but somehow abortion opponents feel they are better qualified than doctors to make these decisions for women.

The bills could force doctors to choose between performing a procedure dictated by politicians — regardless of their medical judgment — or stop performing abortions after 14 weeks. This means that the bills could severely restrict access to abortion in Michigan which, of course, is exactly what abortion opponents want.

It’s worth noting that abortions after 14 weeks are rare. But when a woman does need to end a pregnancy at this stage, a doctor should not be prevented from providing the best medical care possible.

Over at RH Reality Check, an excellent piece on the Michigan legislation and bills in similar states says they’ve been introduced in six Republican-led legislatures this year.

Opponents of these bills believe they are unconstitutional. In Kansas, the court blocked a similar law from taking effect, and a legal challenge has also been filed to stop this kind of legislation in Oklahoma. If the bills are passed in Michigan, it’s likely they’ll face a similar challenge, leading to costly litigation for the state.

But anti-choice Republicans show no signs of backing down. In fact, they’re using the authoritatively discredited videos that were edited to make it look like Planned Parenthood sells baby parts to support their crusade to systematically chip away at abortion rights.

The sponsor of the Michigan bills, Republican Laura Cox, consistently — and incorrectly — refers to this abortion method as a “dismemberment abortion” so she can play on the falsehoods anti-choicers perpetuate to create fear and outrage.

But the fact is that when an abortion is performed after 14 weeks the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says the very procedure Rep. Cox and her colleagues want to ban must be used.

Make no mistake: Michigan Republicans are willing to sacrifice the health and lives of women to satisfy their rabid ideology. Outlawing the safest abortion method — a procedure that is completely legal — would serve no purpose other than forcing women to choose a less safe method of abortion.

Politicians should not be involved in making decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor. Period. HB 4833 and 4834 were not written with input from medical experts, and their vague wording could lead to unintended consequences by limiting all women’s access to safe abortion care.

The time to take action is now. Pro-choice advocates are needed to pack the committee room on Tuesday, October 13. If you’re able to be in Lansing that morning to give testimony, please contact Merissa Kovach at the ACLU of Michigan.

Can’t be in Lansing on Tuesday? You can still be heard. The MI Lead women’s coalition has put together an excellent brief on the topic, with details on how to contact the committee and your legislator.

While you’re taking action, let your Representative know that you also oppose House Bills 4787 and 4830, the so-called abortion coercion bills, which the full House is expected to vote on soon.

Tell your legislators that instead of interfering in the personal decisions of women — and putting their health at risk — it’s time to get serious about tackling real issues, like repairing our roads, improving education, and creating more jobs for Michigan’s women and men. Michigan’s citizens need leadership, not ideological crusades.

[Image credit: slw606 via Flickr.]