Michigan Republicans served up a hearty “forget you” to women, passing H.B. 5711, a massive abortion omnibus bill at the end of the legislative session to close out a year marked by long, contentious battles over abortion in the state.
The bill bans the tele-med prescription of medical abortion, enacts a host of new and costly regulations designed to close clinics, and most offensively, constructs new barriers between women and health care by forcing women who need an abortion to undergo a “coercion” screen to make sure they are making the decision to abort of their own free will. And all of it is done under the guise of protecting women.
Instead, the bill does just the opposite. Women who live in rural communities where there are no clinics readily available are now all but pushed into riskier surgical abortions since telemedicine is increasingly a health care lifeline in these communities. The coercion screen presumes competent women either have not thought through or worse, are simply not capable, of coming to a decision to abort on their own. Tellingly, when Michigan Democrats attempted to amend the bill to include a provision that would attach criminal liability for anyone who coerces a woman into keeping an unwanted pregnancy just as it does for coercing an abortion, Republican lawmakers killed the amendment.
And as we’ve seen in places like Mississippi, passing unnecessary and complicated regulatory provisions, like requiring all clinics that perform 10 or more abortions per year to function as essentially a free-standing hospital, does nothing to ensure women have access to safer medical procedures. Instead, it closes clinics which cuts off access to health care which puts women’s lives in danger.
Gov. Rick Snyder did prove he’s more of a corporatist than a pure evangelical misogynist though, vetoing one measure that would have banned abortion coverage in private insurance contracts because, after some “soul searching” Snyder stated he believed “it is wrong to tell insurers and employers what they can negotiate in their contracts.” So there’s that.
And that’s how the year closes in the war on women–almost exactly as it started, with legislators pushing through unnecessary and unpopular anti-abortion legislation all in the name of “saving women.”
Photo from CAVE CANEM via flickr.