Michigan “Superbill” Redefines Women’s Political Rights

I haven’t been writing in a while because what’s happening in this country concerning the laws that effect women – 50% of the entire population – leaves me practically speechless with horror. It shocks the conscience. I know that’s what anti-abortion people will say happens to them when they think of the poor innocent baby-to-be that, for whatever reason (that’s none of their business), is unwanted.

Women are people. Full-grown people, for the most part. It is morally wrong to force a woman to have a baby she doesn’t want. It amounts to slavery. Women have abortions for many reasons, usually in the first trimester. The vast majority of abortions that occur after week 20 are due to anomalies in the pregnancy- either the baby is not healthy, or the mother’s health is at risk. No one who decides to abort their pregnancy is happy about it, least of all women who make that decision in the second trimester.

Conservative state legislatures around the country have been tripping over themselves these past few years (especially since 2010 midterm elections) in a veritable race to see which can pass the most draconian laws restricting access to abortion, which is a woman’s legal right. Michigan just upped the ante by combining some of the greatest anti-abortion hits from around the country into one giant fast-tracked ‘superbill’ which, if passed, will mandate a slew of regulatory changes in abortion in the state.

If you aren’t concerned about abortion rights, which underpin, by the way, women’s right to contraception, then you should be very worried about the lack of due process going on to ensure that these bills get passed. In Michigan, this omnibus bill was voted out of committee at the end of a rushed, 90 minute hearing where many attendees opposing the bill were not allowed time to speak.

One man, Unitarian minister Jeff Liebmann, did get to testify. He said, “There is no evidence to support the assertion that human personhood begins at conception or even in the first trimester.” He pointed out that during those first weeks of gestation, a human fetus more closely resembled a tadpole than a human. He was publicly rebuked by Representative Paul Opsommer, who took grave offense on behalf of his young grandson, “To listen to you tell me my grandson is no better than a tadpole, is the most uncompassionate testimony and the most gross testimony I have heard in my 5 1/2 years here.” Talk about jumping the logic rails.

This bill inserts itself between doctor and patient, foisting all sorts of bogus mandates on doctors and abortion providers, including determining whether or not the patient seeking abortion was coerced to do so. As ob/gyn Dr. Timothy Johnson testified, “Women are much more likely to be coerced to continue the pregnancy.”

Dr. Johnson went on to slam the state scripting of language to be used by physicians interacting with their patients on the most private of medical decisions, the mandate that physicians using medical (as opposed to surgical, meaning pharmaceutical) abortion be classified as freestanding abortion providers, subject to the same rules as ambulatory facilities, the lack of health exceptions, and the general overreach and vague language of the bill.

Dr. Matthew Allswede, representing the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, detailed the ways in which the omnibus bills would deter ob/gyns from deciding to practice in Michigan. He outlines precisely what a Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill looks like.

Some of the Representatives on the committee- the old white men- really come off as ignorant buffoons, and it is impossible to reason with them. Either they don’t understand the health needs of women, or they don’t care.

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