Take a close look at the names of the sponsors of this new bill regulating abortion related services introduced in the Michigan Senate yesterday. See anything interesting, other than they’re all Republicans?
You guessed it. They’re all packing a Y chromosome.
From a purely statistical standpoint, the laws of probability are against the chance of finding female representation for this legislation. The Michigan Senate, a body of 38 lawmakers, has only four women. Two of the four are Republicans. Yet, you’d think Senators Judy Emmons (R-33) and Tonya Schuitmaker (R-20) would want to take a stand on a women’s health issue. They account for just under 8 percent of Senate Republicans, yet possess 100 percent of the right kind of plumbing to afford them some level of investment in the subject.
Male dominance, it seems, has become so ingrained in the conservative ideology that the women of the party no longer notice the passive misogyny at work here. They should be front and center on any and all women’s health issues — even where they get it wrong (which their record indicates, they typically do).
It’s impossible to imagine any scenario in which the men of the Democratic party would entertain the notion of sponsoring a law on women’s health without seeking feminine leadership. They just wouldn’t.
Democratic Women are Strong
While Democrats also have only two women in the Michigan Senate, Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-18) and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-23), they are among the most active and well-known for speaking-up on women’s issues. Both have gone toe-to-toe with Republican lawmakers. They’ve certainly earned their chops.
The ladies of the Democratic party fully own their reproductive rights. And, they’ve got the brass ovaries to prove it.
Yet, women continue to be routinely marginalized from the democratic process at all levels of government. Looking back just a couple of years, we recall that highly charged exchange when U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) faced-down an all male panel at the congressional hearing over contraception after they barred Sandra Fluke from testifying. Maloney demanded to know “Where are the women?” — just prior to walking-out in protest. Details surrounding the incident dominated the news cycle for months.
Here in Michigan, it’s fair to ask of the two female Republican lawmakers: Where are you? One way or another, demonstrate the courage of your convictions, explain yourself to your constituents, take a stand on this issue.
In this case, the issue presented by SB-840 is one of increased regulatory burden on women’s healthcare providers, requiring third-party caregivers to file a special report on any subsequent complications related to an abortion. It is an expansion of an older RTL-backed state law which legally requires the primary physician to submit an extensive report on even the most minor abortion-related complications for the purpose of tracking the procedure — uniquely and separately from all other healthcare data. The existing law and the amendment are designed to place a heavier burden on women’s healthcare providers above and beyond that of other procedures of similar risk.
The bill expressly prohibits reporting the names of patients. It is decidedly not an effort to protect women’s health, in spite of claims to the contrary.
Other than adding regulatory burden to third-party caregivers, this proposed legislation poses to patients a new risk of being turned-away for post-procedural treatment and redirected to the primary physician in an effort to avoid paperwork — meaning they’ll be sent back to a facility which may be many miles away. Travel burdens may cause a delay in routine follow-up treatment.
Michigan has very few abortion providers. Women who live in rural areas are put at greater risk due to the recent barrage of GOP legislative land mines designed to shrink the availability of reproductive services down to major cities. The state currently has 41 abortion providers, with 30 of those being located in clinics. Fully 86 percent of Michigan counties don’t have any provider at all, leaving 36 percent of the state’s women without ready access to their full reproductive rights.
Complications due to abortion are rare. According to the Guttmacher Institute, first trimester procedures have a low rate of serious complication of only .05 percent. However, delay of an abortion is associated with an accelerated risk. Guttmacher cites the most common reason for delay is the difficulty women have in locating a provider and their initial inability to pay for the procedure. Sixty percent of women report they had to wait due to logistical problems caused by money and distance — problems set-up intentionally through excessive and unnecessary regulatory burdens.
Let’s be exquisitely clear — any claim that this legislation is intended to protect women is patently false. If and when GOP Senators Emmons and Schiutmaker finally find their voice, no one should be fooled by their false argument.