Anti-Abortion Laws in Michigan attacked by Pro-Choice Genocidal activists
Activists try to stop controversial anti-abortion laws in Michigan
Pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood were kept from testifying while critics point to ‘attack on women’s rights’
Paul Harris in New York
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 13 June 2012 17.48 BST
Pro-choice campaigners in Michigan are seeking to stop a controversial package of state laws aimed at drastically limiting abortion rights that could be passed by the state’s House of Representatives as early as Wednesday.
The bundle of laws has been described as one of the most hardline recent attempts at passing anti-abortion legislation in America and its backers have been accused of rushing the process forward without adequate public hearings.
At a hearing last week representatives from Planned Parenthood were not allowed to testify about the new law and the process was cut short by Republican Health Policy Committee chairwoman Gail Haines. It was then passed forward to the House for a full vote which is widely expected on Thursday but could happen as early as this afternoon.
Planned Parenthood for Mid and South Michigan policy director Mehgan Groen said it was unfair that the group, and other pro-choice figures, had not been able to testify properly against the measures. “It is being rammed through as a political manoeuvre. But we should not play politics with women’s health,” she said.
The package of bills will introduce tough new insurance and licensing requirements for clinics and ban abortions that take place more than 20 weeks after conception, except for when it might save a woman’s life. It will also regulate the use of abortion pill Mifepristone and set new guidelines for the disposal of a fetus.
Critics of the proposals say it represents an attack on women’s rights and will make abortions in the state much harder to get, potentially hurting the health of women. “A woman whose fetus is found not viable at 21 weeks will have to carry that fetus to term. That has serious ramifications for the health of the woman,” said Groen.
Defenders say it will stop women from being potentially exploited by doctors and provide a tighter set of rules for the controversial procedure. The bill has been vocally supported by anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan (RLM) and the Michigan Catholic Conference. It is widely expected to pass the House and move onto the Senate.
Michigan’s House is Republican-dominated and almost two thirds of its members are endorsed by RLM. Some are outspoken about that support and blunt about their ultimate aims. “Until we completely eliminate abortions in Michigan and completely defund Planned Parenthood, we have work to do,” said Republican state congressman Mike Shirkey in a recent television interview.
The controversy in Michigan is only the most recent political spat to break out over abortion in recent months and as November’s national elections loom. Abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America is tracking 235 bills in state legislatures that it says would restrict abortion. The group says a dozen have passed so far this year. High profile developments include legislation passed in Arizona to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks and Virginia requiring women seeking an abortion to have an abdominal ultrasound.