Lansing Watchdog: New Bills Threaten Women's Reproductive Rights...Again

POST BY Shelli Weisberg Legislative Director

ACLU at the Michigan Capitol – November 16, 2015

It’s deer hunting season. For those of us who work in Lansing, deer hunting season is also the highly anticipated three-week hiatus prior to frantic attempts to get every legislator’s favorite bill passed before the end of the year. In a presidential year, this exercise is to excite the respective party bases in advance of the primary season. Although we have witnessed several presidential candidate debates so far, the real picking and choosing is still a few months away

Across the country, a tried and true political party favorite during this “silly season” is abortion and all of the divisive, anti-women, anti-science, anti-medical privacy, and anti-common sense strategies that come along with it. Michigan, sadly, is no different. This December, we expect movement on several abortion bills that are actually designed to subjugate women’s autonomy in favor of government restrictions and interference over our healthcare.

The most dangerous of these bills are HB 4833&34, which criminalize the most common form of abortion used after 14 weeks. It is important to know that only about eight percent of all abortions occur after 12 weeks, and that this is a time when many women with planned pregnancies seek abortion care due to fetal anomalies.  The bills were introduced by Rep. Laura Cox, R-Livonia, who admitted during testimony that she has no medical basis for seeking this ban and disregarded professional medical opinion that her bills represent a real danger to pregnant women.

“These bills create a dangerous environment for patients by preventing doctors from having every option available when providing care,” said Dr. Matthew Allswede, a Lansing doctor representing the state section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “It is extremely dangerous for legislators to presume that they are better equipped than experienced physicians to judge what treatment approach is appropriate for a patient and under what circumstances.” Dr. Allswede went on to say that some woman could have complications from the alternative induction procedure, due to scarring from previous surgeries, allergic reactions to medicines or increased risk of infection. In certain circumstances, he said, “time is not on their side.”

HB 4833&34 are positioned to be voted on by the full Michigan House of Representatives any time after December 1, 2015. It is critically important that your representative hear from you early and often about your opposition to passing laws that dictate to doctors which are the safest and most appropriate medical procedures for their female patients.  In no other realm of medicine is the legislature allowed to play doctor except with women’s lives.  This is unconscionable.  Please call and write your Representative – seek them out at coffee hours and holiday appearances – and tell them to stay out of the exam room and to stop interfering with doctor/patient decisions.  And most importantly, tell them to vote “NO” on HB 4833 and 4834.

In no other realm of medicine is the legislature allowed to play doctor except with women’s lives. This is unconscionable.