As we’ve discussed here before, among the proposed new laws put on Governor Snyder’s desk during the lame duck session of the Michigan legislature, was a package of anti-abortion bills known collectively as the 5711 omnibus. This package, if passed, in addition to stopping doctors from using telemedicine to care for women looking to terminate their early-stage pregnancies in rural communities, would force Michigan abortion providers to implement costly new systems and procedures which would effectively force them out of business. The Republicans, in other words, if this legislation were to pass, would have successfully made an end-run around Roe v. Wade, effectively banning abortion, without actually doing so, and thereby running afoul of the Supreme Court.
Before we move on, there are two things to be aware of. First, regarding telemedicine, you should know that 21 out of Michigan’s 83 counties lack even one OBGYN. Currently, women in those areas who wish to terminate their early-stage pregnancies can consult with doctors, either by phone, or via internet, and have medications prescribed that will abort said pregnancies. (A description of the process can be found here.) 5711 would stop this from happening, forcing women in the Upper Peninsula, for instance, to travel hundreds of miles to receive the same safe, legal and effective treatment. Secondly, according to Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, there are currently only 32 non-hospital facilities in the state that provide abortions, and only 4 of them are run by Planned Parenthood. (It’s also worth noting, that, according to NARAL, 83 percent of Michigan counties already have no abortion provider.) If 5711 were to be signed into law, it’s like that all of the non-Planned Parenthood facilities would close, leaving, at most 4 facilities left in the state of Michigan that could provide abortions.
I say “at most” because, as I understand it, only one of the four facilities run by Planned Parenthood currently meets the ridiculously overly-stringent criteria established by 5711, and that’s the facility in Ann Arbor. The others, according to Planned Parenthood’s Director of Community and Media Relations Desiree Cooper, with whom I just spoke, would require qualification under a “waiver provision” that’s currently included in the proposed law. Without the waiver provision, as I understand it, that could leave Michigan with one facility, as, according to Cooper, these new “regulations call for unnecessary facilities improvements that could cost upwards of $250,000.” (Unfortunately, according to Cooper, they “don’t know the criteria for waivers yet,” and won’t until after the bill is signed and the political wrangling begins.)
And, that’s only part of the picture. In addition to the 5711 omnibus, there are also several other abortion-related bills waiting for the Governor’s signature. “Also passed by the legislature in this lame duck session are SB 612, 613 and 614,” said Cooper, “which would ban all private insurance coverage of abortion – coverage that is currently considered part of the core benefits for 80 percent of insurance companies nationally. There is no exception for insurance coverage ban even in the cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly or health of the mother. If a woman wants such coverage, she must buy a separate rider.”
And, as far as we know, all of this is on the Governor’s desk at this very moment, waiting for his signature… which is why I’m asking you tonight to put down whatever you’re doing, and contact him. He needs to hear from you right now. And you need to ask for your friends to do the same.
The Governor may have screwed a lot of us with the recent passage of union-killing right-to-work legislation, but, as he demonstrated yesterday, when he vetoed the legislation that would allow people to carry firearms into schools, churches, hospitals, daycares and stadiums, he’s not completely beyond reason. He knows that passing the right-to-work legislation hurt him badly. He knows that his public support is plummeting, and that, according to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling, only 38% of voters approve of the job that he’s doing, making him the 3rd least popular Governor in the United States. He’s got to know that, if he loses women, it’s all over. But, as we’ve discussed before, there are rumors that he promised to sign this regressive anti-woman legislation into law in exchange for votes on right-to-work. And, if that’s the case, I’m not surprised to hear that he’s putting the decision off to the last possible minute, in hopes that it won’t get press during the holidays. So, that doesn’t give us very much time. We need to convince him right now that he’d be better off breaking his word to few Senate and House Republicans, than encountering the wrath of Planned Parenthood supporters. (You remember what happened to the former head of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, right?) So please make the call right now.
Lastly, if you’re up for it, you can give money to Planned Parenthood here, and support all the good work that they do in the area of women’s health, of which abortion services are just a small part.