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In Michigan, the War on Women is a Bipartisan Effort

12:03 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Angi Becker Stevens for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Michigan Senate Floor (Photo: CedarBendDrive on Flickr).

There has been much talk recently about the war on women, and for good reason — the onslaught of anti-choice legislation authored, sponsored, and voted into law by the far right this past year. But it’s important to recognize that the GOP does not have a monopoly on anti-woman policy. We need keep a close eye on our Democratic legislators as well, and hold them accountable when they vote against women’s health.

In Michigan, Democratic Senator Gretchen Whitmer issued a firm statement against HB 5711, 5712, and 5713 — the now-combined anti-abortion “super-bill” that passed through House committee last Thursday:

“I have no doubt there are a few extremists within the Republican party that actually believe this horrific legislation is a good idea, but the reality is, this legislation wasn’t brought up in committee to get it passed into law, it was brought up so that Republicans could play politics with our bodies and our health once more before they leave town for the summer. With elections looming in front of them, Republicans in the House of Representatives wanted to take one more vote to pander to their special interests, one more vote that will guarantee them a coveted endorsement and one more vote that will earn them a fundraiser hosted in their honor. Make no mistake, this vote is not about setting public policy, it was election year politicking at its most vile.

The fact that the majority of these Republicans aren’t sincere in their attack on women’s health doesn’t make their vote any better. In fact, it makes it worse. It means that they are willing to put politics ahead of all else and election year strategy ahead of real leadership, even when it comes at the expense of women throughout Michigan. Their actions send a message that a woman’s access to healthcare and our ability to make critically important decisions for our own well-being are little more than political bargaining chips that can be cashed in for favors come election time.”

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Rep. Bruce Rendon’s Anti-Abortion “Super-Bill” On Fast Track in Michigan Legislature

11:23 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Angi Becker Stevens for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

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In Michigan, Republican State House Representative Bruce Rendon has introduced an anti-abortion “super bill”—one piece of legislation that includes protocol for screening women for coercion prior to an abortion, along with several TRAP laws including new liability insurance requirements for abortion providers, the regulation of abortion clinics as surgical facilities, and new restrictions on the disposal of fetal remains. The bill would also require the presence of a physician for medication abortion — a particularly damaging regulation in a state where 82 percent of counties have no abortion provider, and many women in rural areas rely on the safe and effective tele-med prescription of medical abortion.

Each of these new restrictions has already been proposed in a separate bill in the Michigan House and Senate; the hypocritical “anti-coercion” legislation, for example, has already passed through the House and is now awaiting a Senate vote. And a bill that would create new regulations on the disposal of fetal remains has been criticized for the potential trauma it would cause for women experiencing miscarriage. But Rendon’s HB 5711 is the first bill in the state to roll so many abortion restrictions into one package, threatening to create in one fell swoop serious barriers for both women in need of abortion care and abortion providers. Packaged with the bill, HB 5713 sets forth sentencing guidelines for violations of the new regulations, and also includes a prohibition on all abortions after 20 weeks in all cases except when it is necessary to save a life.

Additionally troubling is the speed at which HB 5711 appears to be moving through the legislative process. Many of Michigan’s anti-choice bills have languished for months without being brought before a committee; the Senate bill regarding the disposal of fetal remains was assigned to the committee on health policy back in October of 2011, a bill prohibiting the tele-med prescription of medical abortion has been awaiting an appearance before the same committee since last June. But HB 5711 was introduced on May 31st – ironically, and perhaps not coincidentally, the anniversary of Dr. Tiller’s assassination — and is already scheduled to be discussed by the House committee on health policy on Thursday, June 7th. It is likely that the Republican-majority committee will recommend the bill favorably, and that it will be rapidly headed for a House vote.

Defund It All, Let God Sort It Out

7:21 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Robin Marty for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

As the tale is told, during the crusades, a monk was asked how soldiers could separate the Catholics from their enemy.  The monk infamously replied, “Kill them all. For the Lord knows them that are His,” the anecdotal origins of the phrase “Kill them all, let God sort it out.”

We’re in the midst of a new crusade, just as religious, and growing to be just as dangerous – the crusade against sexuality, fertility and human rights.  Sex, our newly empowered conservative leaders seem to believe, is something that should only happen for procreation, should never involve people who aren’t either married or willing to be married should they get pregnant, and should definitely never occur for the sake of pleasure and intimacy.

To push their agenda, they’ve replaced their swords with the newest and sharpest weapons they own – their tax dollars.  Their new rallying cry is to defund: Defund Planned Parenthood!  Defund Sex Ed! Defund Websites! Defund Prenatal Care! Defund WIC! Anything that in any way is associated with the sex or procreation with which they disagree should be defunded, disbanned and eliminated.

Even when these projects actually support their goals.

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The Hypocrisy of “Informed Consent” Abortion Laws

7:45 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Angi Becker Stevens for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Like most people, I don’t spend much time going through my state’s legislative website, reading the actual language of our state laws. When researching the recently proposed abortion restrictions here in Michigan, though, I felt compelled to read the actual abortion regulations as they currently stand—not just a summary, but the actual word of the law. I expected something cold and formal; legal language offering at least a surface-level impression of impartiality. So I was surprised to find, instead, that even the word of the law is actually dripping with rhetoric—and specifically, that it’s nauseatingly constructed on the premise of being “pro-woman.”

Here in Michigan (and I’m sure similar wording exists in many states), our law reads:

“The knowledgeable exercise of a woman’s decision to have an abortion depends on the extent to which the woman receives sufficient information to make an informed choice regarding abortion,”

and,

“The decision to obtain an abortion is an important and often stressful one, and it is in the state’s interest that the decision be made with full knowledge of its nature and consequences,”

and

“The receipt of accurate information about abortion and its alternatives is essential to the physical and psychological well-being of a woman considering an abortion.”

This notion of informed consent is the justification for a 24-hour waiting period, during which time a physician must, among other things, “provide the patient with a physical copy of a medically accurate depiction, illustration, or photograph and description of a fetus supplied by the department of community health at the gestational age nearest the probable gestational age of the patient’s fetus.”

In the portion of the text aimed at the department of the community health, strict guidelines are set for the specifications of these “educational” materials, ordering the department to:

“Produce medically accurate depictions, illustrations, or photographs of the development of a human fetus that indicate by scale the actual size of the fetus at 2-week intervals from the fourth week through the twenty-eighth week of gestation. Each depiction, illustration, or photograph shall be accompanied by a printed description, in nontechnical English, Arabic, and Spanish, of the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus at that particular state of gestational development,” and to “state that as the result of an abortion, some women may experience depression, feelings of guilt, sleep disturbance, loss of interest in work or sex, or anger.”

On a certain level, I can see where the language is almost difficult to argue with: who wants to challenge the idea of merely informing a woman as much as possible about a medical procedure she’s about to undergo?

The kicker, of course, is that there are no laws regulating the specific information that must be given to a patient before undergoing most other medical procedures, even those which are far more invasive and risky than abortion. As most of us who are concerned with reproductive rights are well aware, this language of “informed consent” merely serves as a thinly veiled attempt at shaming women who seek abortion, a shaming made all the more hypocritical when carried out in the supposed name of women’s health and safety. … Read more

Michigan Ballot Initiative Could Transform State into Leader on Stem Cell Research

11:00 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Juvenile Diabetes. Cancer. Alzheimer’s. Parkinson’s Disease. Spinal Cord Injury. ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Auto-Immune Diseases. Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Your mother, your child, your brother, your friend, your grandparent, your aunt. You.

I was 14. They said I had Crohn’s Disease and they were without a reason for the illness, without a cure, without a real treatment.

Almost 15 years later, I’m missing my colon and rectum, among other miscellaneous parts and pieces. My body is a walking tribute to the skill of surgeons after 36 surgeries and almost 80 hospitalizations.

To stay alive and functioning in society, I require over $300 in ostomy supplies a month, not to mention the various treatments and medications that keep the other ‘peripheral’ conditions and illnesses at bay. I have a deep love-hate relationship with the insurance industry.

I’d like to have children some day, but I realize that if I’m even able to have children, which is unknown at this point because of my health, there’s a great risk of passing my disease on. Do I want to do that to my child?

Not a day doesn’t pass when I don’t realize how lucky I am to be alive, but I also understand that Read the rest of this entry →