In the ‘70s, when abortion proponents were making the case for legalized abortion across the land, they argued that passage of Roe v. Wade would ensure needed safeguards for women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. “No more back alley abortions!” was their mantra. Once abortion was legalized, they reasoned, women would no longer be forced to abort their unwanted children in unsafe, unlicensed facilities staffed by untrained, uncaring practitioners. Bringing abortion into the light would protect women and save lives.
That was then, this is now.
In Michigan, Republican Governor Rick Snyder has just signed House Bill 5711, what is called the “abortion omnibus”, a package of bills designed to ensure that abortion facilities meet universal medical standards. Clinics which endanger women’s health will be brought into compliance, or they will close. And oh, the ladies are mad!
What, exactly, does House Bill 5711 do?
- Well, for one thing, H.B. 5711 requires health care facilities where more than 120 abortions are performed annually to be licensed freestanding outpatient surgical centers, subjecting them to rigorous building standards. Surgical abortion clinics could be forced to close if their building’s hallways and recovery rooms don’t meet certain dimensions required for surgical centers. Hallways too narrow for a gurney to pass, and recovery rooms too small to accommodate anesthesia equipment and a medical staff—these inadequacies could render a building unfit to serve as an abortion facility under the new law.
- For the first time, there will be mandated state health inspections of abortion clinics.
- Doctors will ask patients whether they are choosing the abortion of their own free will, or whether they are being coerced by a third party, such as a parent, boyfriend or spouse.
- Doctors will have to be physically present for the surgical procedure. Webcam or “telemed” abortions, in which a medical doctor purportedly “administers” an abortion-inducing drug from another state, will be prohibited.
- Doctors will be required to carry liability insurance, as are physicians in other areas of medical practice, covering the cost of potential injuries to patients in the course of an abortion.
- And now, abortion providers will be required to dispose of fetal remains appropriately through medical waste incineration, cremation or burial. Disposing of aborted fetuses in trash cans and dumpsters, which has been common until now, will be criminalized.
So I ask you: What’s wrong with that?
- Planned Parenthood called on the Governor to veto the legislation, alleging that it “creates unnecessary, burdensome and costly licensing requirements for women’s health centers and will reduce access to comprehensive care for women in rural areas via a telemedicine ban.”
- Michigan State Democratic Senator Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), who is perhaps best known for performing the Vagina Monologues on the Capitol steps and who was banned from speaking in the Legislature for a day because of her obscenity, has protested loudly—calling the protective legislation “an assault on women’s rights.”
- State Sen. Coleman Young II (D-Detroit) criticized his Republican colleagues for pushing forward with the anti-abortion agenda. He said, “Get the government from underneath women’s clothes. We’ve already had this conversation. Obama won, Romney lost, get over it.”
- RH Reality Check, an online publication committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, called the legislation “the anti-choice super-bill”.
Apparently, safeguarding women’s lives is not as important as safeguarding abortion and abortion providers.
The Michigan Catholic Conference, meanwhile, praised the new legislation.
A December 28, 2012 statement by the Conference quotes Rebecca Mastee, J.D., Michigan Catholic Conference Policy Advocate, saying:
“Licensing and inspecting abortion clinics for health and safety standards will serve to better protect those women who, regrettably, choose the path of abortion…. Michigan Catholic Conference applauds Governor Snyder for signing House Bill 5711 into law and extends its appreciation for the governor’s effort to prioritize women’s health and safety. Despite the partisan campaign rhetoric and theatrics that accompanied House Bill 5711 through its legislative journey, good public policy that promotes the dignity of women has proven to be the winner.”
The MCC further applauds Governor Snyder’s veto of legislation to restructure Blue Cross-Blue Shield due to abortion funding provisions within the law. The Michigan Catholic Conference explained:
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) specifically allows states to opt out of abortion coverage in its health care exchanges, and there will be opportunities in the coming legislative session to further address abortion coverage in health insurance plans. No person or employer should be forced to pay for another person’s abortion, especially as it pertains to matters of conscience. Michigan Catholic Conference looks forward to working with the administration and the legislature to craft agreeable policy that ensures abortion—the intentional destruction of unborn human life—is not paid for at the expense of unwitting persons.”