Today marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the landmark Supreme Court decision that guarantees all women a constitutional right to an abortion in the United States. Yet for many reproductive rights advocates, Roe day has become a day of concern, not celebration.
In the last five years, a woman’s right to an abortion in our state has quickly become a right in name only as a result of politicians who pass extreme laws that restrict access to abortion, (the ban on healthcare coverage for abortion and the famous House Bill 5711, to name a couple). And when it comes to abortion rights, access is key.
If you are a woman in Michigan who wants an abortion but lacks access because you are either too poor to afford one or live in an underserved area like the Upper Peninsula, where the closest abortion provider is over 400 miles away, the promise of the Roe Supreme Court decision is an empty one.
We are now halfway through the Michigan Legislature’s 2015-16 session. And in the first year of session alone, more than a dozen bills seeking to further restrict a woman’s access to abortion in this state have been introduced.
Here is a snapshot of current bills jeopardizing reproductive rights in Michigan:
- Method Ban: House Bills 4833 and 4834 would ban the safest method of abortion for many women seeking care in Michigan. Passage of this legislation would force doctors to provide women with substandard care that is not based on medical standards, invasive, and carries great risk.
- Coercive Abortion: House bills 4787 and 4788 criminalize the act of “coercing” a woman to have an abortion. This is an anti-choice bill that disingenuously portrays itself as policy aimed to protect victims of reproductive coercion. In reality, HBs 4787 and 4788 aim to make it more difficult for a woman to access abortion care.
- RFRA: Senate Bill 4 allows healthcare payers, health facilities, and health providers a right to discriminate against patients or deny care based on their own religious or moral beliefs—even in emergency situations in which a person’s life is in danger,.
- Bans: Several unconstitutional bans on when an abortion can be performed have been introduced. Personhood (House Bill 4279), 19 week (House Bill 4146), and 20 week bans (House Bill 4851) have all been introduced.
The ACLU of Michigan is committed to protecting a woman's right to make informed decisions about her reproductive health , but we can’t do it alone. Your help is greatly needed.
When anti-choice legislators try to pass laws that further restrict a woman’s access to abortion (and make no mistake, they will), they need to hear directly from you. Whether it is a simple phone call to your representative or a visit to the state Capitol, your actions make a large impact. And those actions tell Lansing legislators that we are not only watching them with a critical eye—we are taking action.
To get involved with the ACLU of Michigan's reproductive rights initiatives, contact Merissa Kovach at email@example.com.