Michigan Tea Party Hostile to Women’s Rights

A Tea Party legislative assault on women’s reproductive rights.

As roads and bridges continue to crumble, and schools face dire fiscal straits, lawmakers remain focused on regressive policies that do nothing to improve the state of the state. Discrimination, dissonance, and double-standards are what Michigan voters have come to expect from their failed leaders.

imagesCA3KOZZQAt the reins of this cavalcade of retrograde public policy initiatives are Representatives Cindy Gamrat (R-80) and Todd Courser (R-82). Freshmen lawmakers both, elected to their districts on a platform of nineteenth century gibberish that has resulted in a barrage of culturally primitive and misogynistic legislation.

In recent weeks, they’ve offered a number of deceptively worded bills — including one work of dupery designed to make abortion illegal after 18 weeks, plus another, employing a legislative slight of hand that would revive the call for vaginal probes, and of course, the much expected “personhood” bill, titled Life at Conception Act, which earned Gamrat a warning from the Truth Squad over bad science:

[T]he act’s definition of what constitutes a human being may oversimplify scientific understanding of human development. If enforced, it would impinge on the right of women to exercise common forms of birth control.

Most recently though, they’ve jointly put forth House Bill 4309 — aka, the Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection ActOstensibly, the intent of this proposal is to protect healthcare payers, purchasers, providers, and facilities from being forced to participate in certain objectionable healthcare services based on their conscience.

As with all legislation, terminology must first be defined. Before considering the interpretation of “conscience” found in the proposed law,  here’s the accepted Merriam-Webster definition:

Merriam-Webster def of ConscienceRepresentatives Courser and Gamrat propose a slightly different idea of the meaning of the term (from the bill):

“Conscience” means sincerely held convictions arising from a belief in God or the tenets of an established religion, or from the ethical or moral principles of a generally recognized philosophy or belief system that an individual asserting those convictions can reference as a basis for those convictions. For purposes of this act, the conscience of an entity shall be determined by reference to existing or proposed religious, moral, or ethical guidelines, mission statement, constitution, bylaws, articles of incorporation, or regulations adhered to by the entity.

Okay, let’s parse this proposal with the graphic assistance of Miss Betty Bowers, the satirical genius behind targeting all things holier than thou — a spot-on vehicle for illustrating the hypocrisy of Courser and Gamrat.

On the one hand…

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The bill would allow a healthcare payer, purchaser, provider or facility to decline offering “a health care service that violates the conscience of” their personal religious beliefs, regardless if it’s an insult to the Hippocratic Oath and the Constitution — thus resulting in a statute that codifies discrimination as part of Michigan compiled law.

But…

Courser and Gamrat clearly understand the precarious nature of their proposal. So, dealing from the bottom of the deck, they offer a guarantee of indemnity for the acts of discrimination encouraged by the language of their bill, including legal cover prohibiting repercussions over the resulting unethical and unconstitutional misdeeds done in its name.

A person, public or private institution, or public official shall not discriminate against a health care payer or any person, association, corporation, or other entity operating an existing health care payer or attempting to establish a new health careBB4 payer, in any manner, including, but not limited to, denial, deprivation, or disqualification with respect to licensure, aid, assistance, benefit, privilege, or authorization because the health care payer is planning, proposing, or operating a health care payer that declines to pay for or arrange payment of a health care service that violates the conscience of the payer.

A public official, agency, or other entity shall not deny any form of aid, assistance, grants, or benefits to, or in any other manner coerce, disqualify, or discriminate against, a health care payer because the existing or proposed health care payer declines to pay for or arrange for the payment of a health care service that violates the conscience of the payer.

Absolved of their crimes in just two paragraphs.

Courser and Gamrat are not alone in their backwards thinking. Earning an “F” grade from NARAL Pro-Choice America, Michigan is currently one of 27 states actively hostile towards women’s healthcare rights. The Guttmacher Institute has been tracking legislative assaults on women since the year 2000, when Michigan was among thirteen states moving back in time. Today’s picture is much, much worse.

map of states hostile to abortion rights

Michigan is unique in its statutory restrictions on abortion. The previous legislature passed a law requiring women to carry a special rider policy to cover the procedure. Initially, these policies were unavailable, but seven insurers have made them an option for group employer plans only, at a cost of between one and 32 cents a month per employee.

Find Law lists a number of common restrictions on abortions across the nation. They offer the following caveat:

Interestingly enough, some of the statutes may be unconstitutional if challenged, based on prior Supreme Court rulings.

For more information on Michigan abortion laws click HERE and HERE.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

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