Mississippi step aside – Michigan’s got this one.
The mitten has managed to nose-out all other states through its retrograde policies and a burgeoning 1950′s style barefoot-n-pregnant legislative initiative. Lawmakers in Lansing have been cooking-up this assault on women’s reproductive rights through a two-year barrage of increasingly misogynistic bills, culminating in what is touted as the most anti-reproductive rights piece of legislation in the nation. (Mind you, this is the state where male lawmakers sanctioned a female colleague for using the word “vagina” on the House floor. Just what word would they prefer?)
Michigan conservatives have at least one aspect of “trickle down” theory right –Lansing has now inspired similar attacks on women’s healthcare at the local level.
Emboldened by their compatriots in Lansing, the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners voted to block a $12,000 grant application seeking Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians tribal funds designated for the sole purpose of abstinence education through a local Planned Parenthood clinic. The monies would have gone to a facility that does NOT perform any abortions. By law, this type of tribal grant must be routed through a public body, so non-profits must submit their requests under the aegis of local governments. This particular arrangement between Planned Parenthood and G.T. County had been ongoing for several years.
Led by Tea Party Commissioner, Jason Gillman, the county board struck down the grant, with Gillman reportedly saying of Planned Parenthood, “The organization is designed to kill babies.” So, inspite of the fact that patients could not even recieve an abortion at the clinic and the funds were earmarked for abstinence education only, they lost the money. Gillman’s vote came as no surprise to area residents — having previously indicated his neanderthal nature when he made brazenly homophobic remarks while touring a public health facility. The shock was that all but one board member went along with Gillman.
This is not an anomoly. Katherine Humphrey, CEO of Planned Parenthood in West and Northern Michigan sees a trend of backwards thinking in the region and across the nation, asking “What happened? Was it 2012 or 1952?”
So, just where can a person recieve an elective abortion in that county, or the state of Michigan?
Dr. Charlene L. Abernethy, a practicing Michigan OB/GYN for 25 years, laments that there are few facilities in the state that are willing to perform elective abortions. “Personally, I have seen people who are anti-abortion who, when it’s somebody in their family, change their mind.” Abernethy is angered by the way the issue is over-simplified, explaining that each situation is personal and unique.
Medically necessary abortions are still common place and are seldom of the old D & C variety, but instead are the result of using prescribed by-mouth medications that were developed to induce labor, these drugs are employed to abort non-viable pregenancies and are much stronger than the controversial ru486, known as the morning-after pill. Abernethy is troubled by a legal requirement that compels her to review information, meant for elective abortion seekers, with those heartbroken patients that are carrying a non-viable fetus — women who are already deeply traumatized by the loss of a planned pregnancy.
Abernethy is similarly irked by another one-size-fits-all law that requires pregnant Welfare recipients to enroll in a job search program, plus show documentation that they are actively seeking employment. The rub is in the reality — gainfully employed women who are expecting, frequently find themselves at the head of the down-sizing line. In Abernethy’s experience, her patient’s employers like to find ways to give pink-slips as baby shower gifts.
As to the abstinence training program, Abernethy gave a derisive snort when asked if it is effective, citing what a joke those silly “pledge of abstinence” programs have turned out to be. In her professional opinion, reproductive healthcare is a matter of substantive education, including all options and full access to healthcare, politics aside.