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Michigan’s Restrictive New Abortion Law

Rick Snyder came into office promising to be a new kind of Republican governor, focused on budget and economic issues and not on social hot button issues like abortion and gay rights. Despite those promises, he has now signed into law one of the country’s worst laws on abortion, passed by the Republican-dominated state legislature.

The law has many provisions, all of which are designed to make it more difficult to provide abortion services in the state. First, it requires that any facility that performs more than 10 abortions a month be a freestanding building with full surgical facilities — even if they don’t perform surgical abortions at all. Second, it requires doctors to certify that the woman was not coerced into getting the abortion (a laudable goal, but a solution in search of a problem). Third, it requires that a doctor actually be present even if the woman is choosing an RU-486 abortion, which will make it far less likely that rural clinics can stay open. Here’s the real purpose:

Critics of the Michigan law fear its insistence on new, standalone facilities will hurt women in rural and low-income areas as it could force some clinics to close. They say questioning women on whether an abortion is voluntary subjects them to a type of interrogation.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, an abortion rights group that opposed the measure, said it could force many existing abortion providers in the state to either tear down their offices and rebuild from the ground up — or shutter their practices.

The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which also opposed the law, called its passage a setback for reproductive rights and the health of women.

“Safety was never the intention of this law. The only thing this law accomplishes is to make a difficult decision even more difficult,” said Rana Elmir, the communications director for the Michigan ACLU.

This is the religious right doing everything it can to make it more difficult for women to exercise their reproductive rights and make it prohibitively costly to keep clinics open, clinics that also provide a great deal of important primary medical care for women, especially in rural and inner city areas.

Comments

  1. Sastra says

    If the so-called Pro-life advocates had to choose between 5 early-term abortions vs. 4 late(r)-term abortions and one full-term birth — which would they choose? I’m not sure, though I have my suspicions.

  2. scienceavenger says

    The GOP does as Rachel Maddow mocks: Jobs, jobs, jobs, by which I mean abortion.

    Seriously, isn’t there some principle in law that says if something is declared a right, it is illegal to enact laws/regulations that do nothing but make exercising said right more difficult? If there isn’t, there should be. This is just a poll tax by another name.

  3. rabbitscribe says

    #2 Science: as always with legal questions, the answer is “It depends.” Roe v. Wade certainly doesn’t legalize abortion on demand until time of birth. The State can require that surgical abortions be performed by licensed medical practicioners. They can’t limit clinic sizes to one square foot. Everything in between is determined by a series of people in matching black mu-mus.

  4. says

    The entire tea party pulled a bait-and-switch in 2010, claiming to be all about jobs and the economy and not interested in things like abortion. How many times did we hear that in our “liberal media”? And they’ve spent all their efforts on abortion for the last two years and virtually nothing on jobs.

  5. eric says

    What the frak does being in a free-standing building have to do with passing out pills or even performing medical procedures? Surely that provision would not pass even a rational basis test.

  6. theguy says

    The Michigan Republicans seem to be even more extreme than the Wisconsin Republicans. I only hope that both groups can be voted out of office.

    It’s strange to think (and sad too) that it only took one bad election to give these people this much power.

  7. raven says

    Just another artillery shell in the Tea Party/GOP War against Women.

    Then they wonder why women keep voting for Democratic presidents.

    The Tea Party/GOP like their Wars against Women, Gays, Science, and Unions. They are easy and don’t cost anything. Short term at least. Solving real problems like a slow economy, high unemployment, and failing education systems are hard and likely to involve money.

    Cost of a wingnut anti-abortion bill = a few bucks.

    Ruining the lives of many women and children = priceless

    Cost of added welfare for more teenage mothers and unwanted children = well who knows, but likely a lot

    Next up, welfare reform, meaning cutting benefits. To make sure those forced birth mothers and kids grow up really, really poor and miserable.

  8. caseloweraz says

    “First, it requires that any facility that performs more than 10 abortions a month be a freestanding building with full surgical facilities…”

    Could this lead to “circuit riders” — teams of abortion providers that rotate from building to building through the month?

    The other alternative would be to purchase and staff many separate facilities, in each of which only the legal number of monthly abortions would be performed.

    Gee, maybe this is a jobs bill.

    (These suggestions are made with tongue in cheek.)

  9. freemage says

    d. c. wilson: Now, now, be fair–they’re also obsessed with the fight against gay marriage. (IIRC, Tea Partier opposition to gay marriage runs at around 94%, while self-identified “Values Voter” Republicans oppose it at around 80%. Because fiscal conservatism.

  10. maddog1129 says

    @ eric #7

    That was my thought exactly … does this even pass the “rational basis” test?

  11. katkinkate says

    The stand-alone buildings will make it easier for the anti-abortion/birth control protestors to single out the right women and workers to target and shame and makes it easier to blockade the business, Also makes setting up and running the clinics more costly, so restricts the number of service providers and the service opportunities to the community. Makes the clinics stand out more, makes them obvious to the neighbourhood, harder to blend into the background and not attract attention, thus encouraging more protest. The next step will probably be something about signage to identification of the building from all directions and spotlights so everyone can see it for miles.

  12. eric says

    @13 – yes, I too can make a good educated guess at the unstated reasons why abortion opponents would want that free-standing building requirement in the law. That is not really the issue. The issue is what stated reason can they possibly use in court for requiring these facilities have four unshared walls.

  13. says

    What’s ironic is that republicans are now doing exactly what they’ve accused democrats of dong for decades: Put in place regulations that are so onerous that it will force business to close their doors.

    Only now they’re doing with that deliberate intent.

  14. says

    Well, all it took to make NJ’s governor a “compassionate conservative (fuck him, btw) was a “biblical” deluge of the easten part of the state. Perhaps a blizzard that closes every airport and road and causes a couple of thousand of old people to freeze to dea–, um, wait, they’d prolly PRAY for that to happen.

    Fuck Snyder, he’s a lying fuckweasel, but what else should one expect of the GOP at this point?

  15. Johnny Vector says

    I’m trying to recall the last medical procedure I had done in a free-standing building with no other clients. I’m having little or no success. This sure wouldn’t pass my rational basis test.

  16. D. C. Sessions says

    The issue is what stated reason can they possibly use in court for requiring these facilities have four unshared walls.

    It reduces the danger to other tenants or buildings when someone firebombs the place.

  17. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    Rick Snyder came into office promising to be a new kind of Republican governor, focused on budget and economic issues and not on social hot button issues like abortion and gay rights.

    During the 2010 MI gubernatorial campaign, Rick Snyder was very clear on his being an opponent of abortion rights. In fact his campaign prioritized his being anti-abortion rights while in southwest Michigan. Here’s an example of a column he wrote during the ’10 campaign for MLive.com which is a key southwestern Michigan publisher*: http://www.mlive.com/opinion/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2010/06/guest_commentary_rick_snyder_s.html .

    Having said that, Ed is correct that Snyder did pose as someone who was not interested in taking up the banner of the bigoted, Christianist, corporatist fascist right. He repeatedly vetoed their bills and proposed and pass an increase in taxes on some fixed-income retirees.

    So the challenge non-conservatives had to contend with when considering whether to vote for him in 2010 was whether he’d stand-up to the filibuster-proof majority of Republicans who dominate the two Michigan state legislatures (in spite our not being a red state). It is my perspective he did a fantastic job, demonstrating even more character than Barack Obama, until the 2012 lameduck legislative sessions began which resulted an incredible amount of Christianist/Tea-Party friendly legislation passing and hitting the Gov. Snyder’s desk. Mr. Snyder did veto some of those bills, including an atrocious anti-abortion bill, but as Ed reveals here, he also signed some as well.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this impacts Mr. Snyder’s future. From my perspective Mr. Snyder’s performance through Oct-12 demonstrated he and his approach to governance could provide a path for the GOP to regain some credibility. In fact Ms. Maddow did a wonderful job a couple of days after the last election arguing why we need a competent GOP where Mr. Snyder’s performance would have been a perfect illustration of Maddow’s point such governance was possible. However, since the election Gov. Snyder hasn’t merely let down non-conservatives, he’s horrified them; similar to how constitutionalists perceive President Obama’s performance on 4th and 5th Amendment issues.

    *MLive’s parent, Booth Newspapers, is located in Grand Rapids where they publish the Grand Rapids Press; however they also publish papers in MI cities/towns outside southwestern Michigan as well.

  18. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #18

    Governor Snyder is a rational Rethuglican only in comparison to nutcases like Virginia Governor McDonnell. Compared to former Michigan Governor George Romney, he ain’t. Nice try but no cigar.

  19. teele says

    Mr. Heath, Mr. Snyder has turned out to be the nightmare I fully expected he would be. While I’m angry about almost everything he’s done while in office (with the single exception of the bridge issue), I am enraged about everything he’s done in the past two months. I particularly dislike his support for the Right to Work for the Same Wages as a Chinese Peasant bill. I did not think any governor could do more damage to Michigan than John Engler, but Mr. Engler begins to look like an amateur. Mr. Snyder will almost certainly succeed in the complete dismantling of public education in this state, a project Mr. Engler was passionate in pursuing but failed to accomplish.

    Mr. Snyder announced that businesses (unnamed, of course) are already showing interest in moving to Michigan. Meanwhile, here in southwestern Michigan, where I reside, we are heavily dependent on tourism, as is most of the northern part of our state. Mr. Snyder left the job of signing the the rest of the Tea Party’s holiday ejaculate this week to his lieutenant, because Mr. Snyder is on vacation — “out of state.” Lovely to have the governor of the most beautiful state in the union leave when he wants to enjoy himself — it gives just the right message to would-be visitors, don’t you think?

  20. criticaldragon1177 says

    Ed Brayton,

    Off course this probably won’t stop really desperate women from getting abortions. For the most part, It will just make it more likely they’ll end up dead, afterwards.

  21. slc1 says

    Re teele @ #24

    Lovely to have the governor of the most beautiful state in the union leave when he wants to enjoy himself — it gives just the right message to would-be visitors, don’t you think?

    Although I agree with Mr. teele that Governor Snyder is pond scum, I have to say that this is a bit of a cheap shot. With all due respect, winter weather in Michigan ain’t winter weather in Florida or Southern California and one can’t really blame the governor to taking a break. As someone who grew up in Los Angeles and went to graduate school in Upstate New York, I can speak with some authority in this regard.

  22. says

    Snyder MAY have been a decent human being at some point in his life, He’s a fuckbag now, and likely will remain one until he’s dead–it’s a very difficult process to reverse.

    Does this:

    “First, it requires that any facility that performs more than 10 abortions a month be a freestanding building with full surgical facilities — even if they don’t perform surgical abortions at all.”

    Single out abortion facilities for doing what many other places do, performing minor medical surgical procedures for walk-in patients?

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