It must be hard to be a state these days. Everyone around you is always doing crazy stuff to get attention, and you really have to compete to get noticed. Well, not content to be a nice midwestern state any longer, Michigan is now gunning to become one of the cool kids by passing an insanely restrictive abortion law. Yeah, why let Arizona have all the fun? As we speak, they are busily ramming a huge bill up into our collective uterus that, if passed, would basically guarantee that most of the abortion clinics in the state would have to shut down. Hey, go big or go home, right?
The 60-page bill was introduced just last week by Republican Representative Bruce Rendon and contains all matter of horrors. For starters, all abortions after 20 weeks would be criminalized—no exceptions for victims of rape or if the fetus has a severe anomaly, like it is missing a brain or a spine. Wait? Oh, nevermind it's pointless to even try to understand how that is a good idea because it's not. There is a very narrow exception made if the mother's life is at risk, but simply her health and/or future fertility is not reason enough to allow an abortion. Well, how very pro-life indeed. Oh, it'd also make it a crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion. Geeze, make that definition vague enough and you might be able to start prosecuting doctors for being overly enthusiastic in telling patients that it's totally safe to get an abortion…
This lovely bill would also require that health centers that perform more than six abortions in a month be equipped with surgery rooms, even if they don't do surgical abortions. Just in case someone needs an emergency appendectomy while they're waiting, I guess? Makes TOTAL sense to spend a shit-ton of money you don't have to create a room filled with expensive equipment that you'll never use and have to jump through a bunch of hoops and pay to have the facility licensed.
There are also a number of provisions that can sadly now be described as typical: Women need to be screened to be sure there's no "coercion" going on. A doctor needs to be present for medication abortions, and no telemedicine is allowed, so doctors won't be able to use technology to prescribe medication abortions from afar or even prescribe the morning-after pill. And, just for good measure, the bill also puts in place elaborate new regulations for the disposal of fetal remains.
As you might have guessed, all of these restrictions would make it very difficult, if not impossible, to operate a clinic that offers abortions. You'd have to spend a huge amount of money to install a surgical room that sits empty. You'd need to pay a doctor to be there at all times, even if they weren't doing anything. And all of your patients would need to come into the clinic to get services, where you'd then have to grill them to make sure they hadn't been forced into showing up. Of course, that's assuming they even live close by enough and have enough money to transport themselves to you in the first place.
Of course, doctors and people who are concerned that women be allowed some small measure of control over their own lives are concerned about these draconian measures, and about 90 of them showed up to testify against the bill. But Health Policy Committee chair Republican Gail Haines cut the hearing short after a Right to Life spokesperson and just a few other people spoke—so nobody else got the chance to lodge objections or ask questions. Yay democracy!
As you've no doubt surmised, there would be major ramifications if this bill passes. Meghan Groen, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan sums it up succinctly:
It could shut down most reproductive health centers in the state of Michigan. It's the most extreme legislation we're seeing anywhere in the country.
Excellent. Great work, America! We won't even have to wait long for this shitshow to begin. This piece of crap legislation is going to be voted on by the full House sometime next week, where it is expected to pass and from there the sky is the limit. Aaand SCENE! Just kidding, this is not a hilarious 19-act play entitled "The War on Women," this is the depressing reality we now find ourselves in.
Michigan Anti-Abortion Bill, 'Most Extreme' in the Country, Barrels Through State House [HuffPo]
State House panel passes bills banning abortion after 20 weeks [Detroit News]
Photo via iQoncept/Shutterstock.