Well, it looks like Governor Snyder did what many of us were fearing that he’d do… This afternoon, while most of us were at home, enjoying the holidays with our families, he signed the anti-abortion omnibus bill into law. The following is from the Daily Beast.
Michigan women will face new obstacles to legal abortion after Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law wide-ranging restrictions in the last hours of that state’s legislative session Friday.
Under the new law, private medical offices where abortions are performed will be required to be licensed as surgical facilities; women seeking an abortion must first meet with a health-care professional to ensure they aren’t being coerced into the procedure; health-care providers can refuse service if their conscience so dictates; and new regulations will be imposed on how fetal remains are disposed.
Snyder surprised many by vetoing related legislation that would only allow insurance coverage of abortions through rider policies that companies could deny. A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman called this a “victory” amidst the package of new restrictions.
“Those three issues were our top issues: conscience, insurance, and regulation and reform,” Ed Rivet, a spokesman for Michigan Right to Life, told the Detroit Free-Press. “That we’re doing them all simultaneously is pretty remarkable.”
Critics, though, call the bill confusing, contradictory, and over-broad. Policy watchdog RH Reality Check deemed it “one of the most extreme pieces of anti-choice legislation in the country.”
“It is a sad day for Michigan women,” said State Senator Rebekah Warren. “They will pay for this legislation with their dignity, health, and ultimately some even with their lives.” Warren was Michigan’s affiliate NARAL director for seven years before being elected to office…
I’m sure that some will applaud Governor Snyder for having sufficient nerd spine to stand up to the extremists of his party, and veto their legislation which would have prevented private insurance companies from covering abortion procedures in the state of Michigan. I, however, won’t be joining them. While it’s true that things could have been even worse, that does not make the 5711 omnibus, which he signed into law this afternoon, any less vile. It will take some time to see how things work out, but, as we discussed a few days ago, this legislative end-run around Roe v. Wade could very well mean that the entire state of Michigan will have only one independent, non-hopsital facility which can legally perform abortions. (Presently, there are 32.) This, I think most of you would agree, is absolutely unconscionable.
In addition to meaning a rise in risky DIY abortions, and ensuring that hundreds of unwanted children are born to unprepared mothers against their will, this will almost surely bring more violence to Ann Arbor, where, assuming some compromise isn’t struck in Lansing, the state’s only remaining abortion facility will be located. (Planned Parenthood presently operates four facilities in the state, but only the Ann Arbor facility meets all the unnecessarily stringent criteria spelled out in 5711. The other three facilities would require “waivers,” and it’s not yet known if these will be extended.) Snyder, by signing this today, has essentially made Ann Arbor ground zero in the war on women’s rights in this state, and I hope he’s ready to face the consequences, both electorally and ethically. Not only will this make him virtually unelectable in Michigan, in my opinion, but it will bring every insane anti-choice zealot in our state to the Planned Parenthood location on Packard. I hope this is just another instance of me worrying for nothing, but I can’t help but think that bad things will happen as an increasing number of delusional individuals begin making their way to Ann Arbor, in hopes of shutting down this facility, and thereby effectively ending abortion in Michigan.
It may be too early to start thinking about this, but I think we may want to begin planning a series of fundraisers so that the good people of Planned Parenthood can afford to put systems in place to ensure their safety.
Also, I hope that the Governor knows that this will only hasten the out-migration of educated young workers from Michigan, ensuring our standing as a third-tier state… What young, college-educated woman would choose to make her home in a state that has essentially said that women can’t be trusted to make her own decisions concerning her reproductive health? As much as it pains me to say it, unless we make a great deal of progress over the coming years, I’ll likely encourage my daughter to leave and make a life for herself elsewhere.
[note: My last article on this subject, which goes into quite a bit more detail, and incorporates an interview that I did with a representative of Planned Parenthood, can be found here.]