On June 14, the Muskegon Chronicle printed an article entitled “Anti-abortion bill approved by state House” written by Tim Martin of the MLive Lansing Bureau. It did not in any way explain the gravity of HB 5711 and its effect on the women of this state, their families and the medical professionals involved. I believe that the citizens should know the facts of this extreme anti-abortion bill. My floor speech given on June 13 tries to do this, so I share it with you below, with minor changes:
I stand in strong opposition to HB 5711.
Last week one of the ministers giving the invocation on the House floor said a few things that relate directly to the bill we have before us. He called for freedom of religion, for supporting the greater good over personal politics, and for the health and safety of individuals. This bill violates all of these principals.
This bill does not respect all religious beliefs and in fact imposes the religious beliefs of some on everyone.
These bills purport to protect women from unlicensed, unsafe abortion clinics, but in fact will force women to self-abort in totally unsafe conditions because most clinics across Michigan will be closed if this bill is signed into law. Is this what you want?
There are abortion clinics that need to better meet standard medical practices for the safety of women, but the requirements for licensing of abortion clinics are extreme and not based on relative risk. Many doctors perform surgery in their offices, including vasectomies, and these offices are not required to be licensed. It is clear to me that the intent of this bill is to close clinics and make early medical abortions or nonsurgical abortions unavailable, not to make them safer.
Last week, during Health Policy Committee an obstetrician stated that HB 5711 will make Michigan a state that OB/GYNs will avoid. The bill requires $1 million of medical liability insurance for some OB/GYNs and $1 million of insurance for OB/GYNs is not even available in Michigan. Michigan already has a shortage of OB/GYNs. Do you want pregnant women to have to travel hours to deliver a baby? Is this safer?
These bills interfere with the best medical judgment of physicians in determining what is safest and best for the women under their care, particularly in the use of industry safe and common abortion medication.
To add insult to injury, as clinics become less and less available due to onerous and unnecessary regulations, these bills would prohibit the use of telemedicine so women in rural areas have no access to safe legal abortions. Having a licensed surgical center is not necessary to prescribe an early medical abortion. The intent is obvious.
In the case of coercive abortions, obviously I don’t want that, but the proponents refuse to include protection for women who are coerced into having a baby they are unprepared to raise. This actually is more frequent than coerced abortions.
If you were truly concerned about the number of abortions in Michigan, you would support my bill requiring insurances to cover family planning and the Prevention First package.
If you were truly concerned about the safety of women in domestic violence situations, you would better fund domestic violence programs.
These anti-abortion bills are opposed by such august organizations as:
• American Congress of Obstetricians and gynecologists
• American Association of University Women
• And the Michigan State Medical Society among many others
Most of us are not medical professionals and yet many elected officials want to regulate medical procedures outside of their expertise and put pregnant women’s safety at risk.
This bill pretends to do good things but ends up putting women’s health in danger, putting ob/gyns at risk and driving them out of Michigan, forcing one religious position on women who have different beliefs and unnecessarily driving up the cost of legal abortions.
The Health Policy Committee meeting room was packed with constituents and voters who feel violated by the requirements of this bill. Friday, the gallery was filled with women of all ages who believe this bill is too extreme and part of a War on Women.
This bill is an unprecedented attack on women’s reproductive health. This bill is vague, poorly drafted and will have serious ramifications for women’s access to health care services.
I proposed to Right to Life that we pull this bill and go back to the drawing board with both sides and actually make clinics safer, not unavailable; find respectful treatment of fetal remains without the extreme requirements of this bill and honor the medical judgment of physicians and the decisions of women based on their religious beliefs, not ours.
But at this point the only thing we can do is vote this down. For these reasons I urge a no vote on HB 5711.
This bill, and those that follow, have infuriated women of all ages in Michigan. Women my age fought for safe legal abortions back in the ’60s and ’70s because too many desperate women were dying from back alley abortions or self-induced abortions. As much as we all want abortions to be unnecessary, they have always existed and they always will. Let’s keep them safe and legal, not unavailable and unsafe.