Remember last summer, when two women dared use the word “vagina” while talking about female reproductive rights on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives? Well, you probably don’t remember the bill they were objecting. It was sort of overshadowed by a bunch of grown men being icked-out by any mention of lady parts. The bill was HB 5711, also known as the anti-choice “super bill.” If you care about women’s reproductive rights at all, you should be pissed and terrified.
There are so many restrictions in this 45-page bill, it’s hard to pick out the most ridiculous and offensive. First of all, it contains protocol for screening women for “coercion” before they undergo the procedure. This is code for “asking women questions that are no one’s effing business as a means of trying to guilt them out of their decision.” It will also ban the use of telemedicine abortion – a procedure that allows physicians to remotely supervise administration of the pregnancy-ending drug RU-486. This procedure has proven crucial in rural areas where access to doctors and clinics is limited.
Then there are the host of new physical requirements that clinics will have to adhere to in order to be permitted to perform the procedure. Minimum doorway sizes and minimum square footage requirements could shut down almost every clinic in the state. Jezebel reports, “21 out of Michigan’s 83 counties already lack a single OB/GYN, so this bill will make it that more difficult for the state’s women to gain access to healthcare. This could get real bad, real fast.”
Bundling so many restrictions into one bill is virtually unprecedented. RH Reality Check reports, “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 is another piece of legislations, HB5713, which outlines sentencing guidelines for violations of new regulations, and prohibits all abortions after 20 weeks. Since only 1% of abortions that occur in this country are “late term,” is there a necessity to even include this restriction in the new legislation? Sure, if you want to perpetuate the myth that women are flippantly scheduling their late-term abortions between their mani-pedi’s and happy hour.
The fact is 90% of abortions happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The right to this medical procedure is something we won almost 40 years ago. Were we really more progressive and pro-woman in 1973? With all of this new legislation chipping away at women’s reproductive rights – rights that have been ours for four decades – all signs point to “yes.”