Recommendations for Pro-Life Lawmakers if They Really Care About Life
This week, with apparently nothing else of greater importance on the agenda, the Michigan House plans to vote on three bills to restrict abortion access and purportedly protect women.
These bills, if enacted into law, would dramatically restrict women’s access to abortions, ban ALL abortions after 20 weeks and increase the responsibility of the state to oversee medical clinics.
They also contain a proposal to prevent women from being coerced to have abortions, which creates impossible investigative responsibility and enforcement standards. The legislation mandates additional insurance requirements and inflates costs.
much for smaller government and reducing the regulatory burden, but I digress…
Right to Life and conservative legislators certainly have made good use of dramatic imagery and theatrics (SEE PREVIOUS COLUMN) in lobbying for these three proposals -- House Bills 5711, 5712 and 5713 if you want to look them up.
And the bills’ supporters have described themselves as being all about women’s and children’s lives.
To start with, the bills’ primary sponsors have offered little in other legislation related to those purported priorities: Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama has introduced a bill that would revise the age and date requirement for entering school.
Rep. Deb Shaughnessy, R-Charlotte proposes tying assistance payments to children’s school attendance, eliminating some school improvement reports and requiring districts to disclose provision of the medical benefit plans. Rep. Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City has introduced changes to guardianship policies.
That’s as close as it comes. Which isn’t close at all.
So I say, if legislators and the Right to Life (of the unborn only) groups truly have the priorities of improving the lives of children, bettering women’s health care and reducing the incidence of abortion, here are a few suggestions:
1- Support affordable, quality, accessible family planning and sex ed in schools
If we prevent unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, we prevent abortion, right?
Nothing in these bills addresses any of that.
2-Support programs for children after they are born
Education, social services, health care, foster care, improved day care, better juvenile crime prevention…the list goes one.
3-Fund inspectors for all health- and safety-related activities
One of the bills requires increased inspections and regulations for offices and clinics where abortions are performed. But there is no funding increase in the bills to support state inspectors to do such work. And as anyone dealing with public health, environmental issues or other such critical tasks, there’s not exactly an oversupply of state inspectors for any of the other mandated tasks that reach a far great number of Michigan citizens.
4-Get back to jobs, jobs jobs
Desiree Cooper, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, reminded me that a better Michigan economy means more employment, which means more people with health insurance and more families with higher incomes. “If people have jobs, they can afford family planning and health care,” Cooper says.
So where is that commitment, legislators?
5-Listen to the doctors
One of the few speakers allowed to testify at the June 7 House Health Policy Committee hearing on the three bills was Dr. Timothy Johnson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Michigan.
Suffice to say, he objects to the proposals on medical and privacy grounds.
“I can’t imagine this legislation going through and further compromising the health of women in my community,” he said.
6-Have a real hearing
House Health Policy Chair Gail Haines, R-Waterford held all of a 75-minute hearing on the three bills before taking a vote to send them to the full House floor for a decision. She treated the measures’ supporters and detractors with different levels of respect and expectations.
Haines also did not allow representatives from Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for Women and other such organizations to speak at the hearing.
While these groups have taken an undeserved beating in the male-dominated, polarizing media world, the reality is their work touches not just women but families, which last time I checked, often included men.
What is Haines afraid of? Some rational, level-headed, accurate discussion about the recklessness of the vague, unenforceable, emotion-driven bills she’s allowed to sail through to the full House?
At least a fuller hearing would allow those of us who can see through the powerful but inaccurate imagery of “babies in Dumpsters” to have a full discussion about the implications of these proposed laws. And those implications are much more damaging to Michigan than the limited cases of late abortion that Michigan has
7-Stop making the abortion discussion such a narrow view of “values”
During the June 7 hearing, Shaughnessy said her support of the bills is, in part, to “recognize the full humanity of the unborn children.” She introduced the measure that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks with NO exceptions for the life of the mother or fetal abnormality, including cases that make survival impossible.
For a woman deciding , for example, to pursue treatment for cancer at the expense of her unborn child, well… it seems to me the decisions about what constitutes full humanity in that case should be left to her, her doctor and her family, not the Legislature.
Some of us think “values” are more personal than what some headline-seeking politicians seem intent on defining them as.
Opponents of the legislations plan a rally at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Capitol in Lansing.