Climate Change, Population Growth and Reproductive Health: It’s About More Than Reducing Emissions

Karen Hardee and Kathleen Mogelgaard

As heads of state gather in NY and Pittsburgh this week to discuss our climate future, they should broaden their view beyond the technological fixes that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and remember the human face of climate change—a face that is frequently female, and in need of fundamental support that will enable her to take care of herself, her family, and our world.

This is a big week in the march towards the UN Climate
Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, where world leaders are expected
to hammer out a new global treaty to address the problem. Today, President
Obama and other heads of state will meet in New York with UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon to discuss climate change; the subject is also likely to be high on the
agenda at the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh later this week.

Much of the focus this week and leading up to the meeting
in Copenhagen in December is on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that
cause climate change: who should have to cut, by how much, and in what time
frame. We hear a lot about cap and trade, clean energy, promoting energy
efficiency, and other technological solutions. For years, reducing emissions
has been the focus of efforts to address climate change. But we know now that
reducing emissions is not enough: millions of lives are being upended by the
effects of changes in climate – food scarcity,
water scarcity, vulnerability to natural disasters and infectious diseases,
and population displacement.  Women and children are the most
vulnerable groups to climate change. 

So how does
reproductive health fit into this picture? A new study
by the UK-based Optimum Population Trust
and the London School of Economics shows the connection between contraceptives
and climate change. The study concludes that universal access to reproductive
health could be one of the most cost effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions by 2050. A Population Action International report from May detailed
how population dynamics, not just overall growth, contribute to climate
change.

This helps to
broaden our thinking around the diversity of strategies that will be needed for
meaningful and lasting solutions to climate change. Investing in contraceptives
and reproductive health is about more than reducing emissions; it is also a
critical piece of reducing vulnerability and building resilience to the impacts
of climate change.

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This is true from
a demographic perspective, as well as at the individual and household
level.  Rapid population growth can
exacerbate existing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change—for example,
population growth rates in highly vulnerable low elevation coastal zones in
Bangladesh and China are nearly twice as high as national averages; and in
Ethiopia, the combination of rapid population growth and climate-induced
declines in agricultural production will heighten food insecurity. At the
household level, a woman with access to reproductive health services is
healthier and has healthier children; she has greater opportunities to
diversify income sources; and she is more likely to be able safeguard herself
and her family in the event of disaster. All of these things contribute to
resilience in the face of the impacts of climate change.

Slowly but surely, the larger reproductive health and
rights community is paying attention to these important linkages in the lead up
to Copenhagen. In preparation for this week’s climate meeting at the UN, PAI’s
Dr. Karen Hardee participated in an event hosted by UNFPA to highlight this
critical but often overlooked aspect of climate change.  Karen spoke of the link between meeting
needs for reproductive health and fostering resilience in countries hard hit by
the effects of climate change. She highlighted PAI’s recent working paper,
which examines national climate change adaptation plans for 41 least developed
countries. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of these plans identify rapid
population growth as a factor that exacerbates vulnerability in their
countries; unfortunately, only two propose adaptation projects that include
aspects of reproductive health. 

Karen elaborated on these points in an interview with IPS in Pakistan.  In a world
where 200 million women have an “unmet need” for family planning, increasing
access to contraceptive services can and should be one of the tools for
addressing the impacts of climate change.

As heads of state gather in NY and Pittsburgh this week
to discuss our climate future, they should broaden their view beyond the technological
fixes that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and remember the human face of
climate change—a face that is frequently female, and in need of fundamental
support that will enable her to take care of herself, her family, and our
world.

Commentary Abortion

My Latest Reproductive Health Procedure Makes Anti-Choicers Seem Even More Hypocritical

Katie Klabusich

If anti-choicers truly cared about women to the degree they claim, surely they would treat abortion procedures just like any other reproductive health need—and leave decisions about safety and comfort up to women and their doctors.

Over the past decade or so, the public language in anti-abortion lobbying has shifted from “Save the children!” to “For the health of the mother!” Having apparently determined that over-the-top tactics of lying down in front of cars and chaining themselves to clinic doors were turning off the public at large, prominent groups like the National Right to Life now often push for laws they say benefit “everyone involved”—including the pregnant person.

While anti-choice groups still use inflammatory language like “infanticide” and “abortion mill” in their newsletters and blog posts, the emphasis has shifted to passing targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) laws—all under the guise of protecting, as the National Right to Life puts it on its website, “mothers and their unborn children.”

As a reproductive justice advocate who has had a first-trimester abortion, anti-choicers’ language around these laws became even more clearly hypocritical to me following a different, in-office reproductive health procedure I recently underwent to save my life. Given the degree of anti-choice rhetoric about how much stress women undergo to get abortions, I hadn’t even considered the thought of being uncomfortable and emotionally exhausted by any other reproductive health service. After all, the public doesn’t hear much about the thousands of women like me who are at high risk for cervical cancer, and we certainly aren’t a priority of any anti-abortion group I’ve encountered. If anti-choicers truly cared about women to the degree they claim, surely they would treat abortion procedures just like any other reproductive health need—and leave decisions about safety and comfort up to women and their doctors.

An Arbitrary Standard

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One TRAP law that has been particularly damaging in recent years requires abortion providers to adhere to ambulatory surgical center (ASC) standards. Conveniently omitting that first-trimester abortion only sends a tiny fraction of patients to the hospital in need of follow-up care, anti-choice groups and legislators have continuously maintained that the width of a facility’s hallways, number of parking spaces, and size of the janitorial closets guaranteed through certification as an ASC will be what safeguards the patient’s health during their five-minute procedure.

Dr. Leah Torres, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based OB-GYN specializing in reproductive health, says these laws do exactly the opposite.

“TRAP laws are passed under a false premise of patient safety,” Torres told Rewire. “Patient safety is the top priority of any physician, yet the laws that are passed prohibit me from taking care of people in the safest way I know how. This does, in fact, hurt my patients. Harm is done when physicians’ hands are tied.”

The most famous ASC law was penned in Texas, where its parent omnibus anti-abortion law, HB 2, is winding its way through the appeals courts, due to be heard by the full Fifth Circuit on January 8. Texas is certainly not the only state with this requirement. Anti-abortion groups across the country have pushed laws, such as the model legislation from Americans United for Life, that have proven to close the doors of clinics. Accreditations and building specifications are a matter of public record, so it’s easy to determine whether or not local clinics meet the expensive building requirements to become ASC-certified. If they—like many of the Texas facilities—do not meet those requirements, anti-choicers conceivably know that having the construction done to meet the standards is often a multi-million dollar ordeal that results in closure rather than renovation. 

Occasionally a right-to-lifer will slip and publicly admit that abortion is safer than pregnancy, or that all the talk about “women’s health” is just a façade to divert attention from their intention to close clinics. With those missteps on the record, let’s just be honest about the whole thing: Anti-choice groups and the legislators they back aren’t interested in the health of the patient. Their interest stops at the health of the embryo or fetus. If they cared about the whole health of the patient, that interest would have revealed itself at some point during their more than 40 years in existence as a movement. 

Dr. Torres says she has yet to see someone calling themselves “pro-life” advocating for preventive and life-saving care.

“It is discriminating to profess concern for patient safety for one procedure, for one population—women of reproductive age—and not for all people across all specialties,” says Torres. “It is hypocritical and it feels false, as well as insulting.”

Indeed it does.

Selective Concern

Abortion is, after all, the only reproductive health-care procedure that seems to matter to these groups. Having spent time volunteering and organizing as a clinic defense escort in Chicago, New York, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, I can attest to the very singular focus of the picketers and the groups they represent: With the exception of the occasional anti-contraception sign, all the misinformation-filled pamphlets, screaming, and photoshopped, gory placards are abortion-motivated. This seems curious, as any “life”-focused activist should be interested in the lifesaving services offered at most clinics and doctor’s offices. You never see them screaming on their capitol building’s steps demanding the expansion of preventive care like Pap tests, STI testing, prenatal support, and the like. They aren’t passing out condoms at AIDS walks, or even offering child-care assistance for the children a patient already has. If a National Right to Life, Pro-Life League, or Operation Rescue member is holding a sign somewhere, their only concern is forcing a pregnant person to carry to term.

This gap in empathy and what constitutes “saving a life” exhibited by millions of anti-choicers was particularly evident to me when I went in to my gynecologist this August for a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), which removed abnormal tissue on my cervix both for further testing and to hopefully excise any pre-cancerous cells, thus preventing cervical cancer. I am on what I call the “HPV merry-go-round,” having contracted a strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV) in my 20s that my immune system has not yet successfully fought off ten years later. HPV is so common that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives,” so I’ve never felt particularly “damaged” by the diagnosis, just frustrated and extremely inconvenienced. 

Most strains don’t cause health problems (especially in men, who often never discover they were or are a carrier). The handful of problematic strains, however, lead to annual HPV-associated cancer diagnoses in approximately 20,000 women and 12,000 men, with cervical cancer in women being the most common (12,109 cases and 4,902 deaths in 2011). As a consequence, preventive treatments such as colposcopies and LEEPs can be literally lifesaving. 

Over the past decade, I’ve gone through occasional stretches with normal Pap test results and just the one doctor’s visit for that year. More often than not, though, I’m back for additional Paps, the now routine-for-me colposcopy to determine just how abnormal or pre-cancerous the cells of my cervix are, and, most recently, a LEEP.

So after three colposcopies and a LEEP—all performed in my doctors’ offices—I’ve had more than my share of “work” done in terms of reproductive health procedures. Personally, I am comfortable saying that my first-trimester abortion was a less stressful appointment and came with less discomfort than the four procedures performed to prevent any developing cervical cancer. My LEEP in August was particularly traumatic because my doctor and her staff had what I will politely describe as a lack of bedside manner. Picturing the cold procedure room where I was left for nearly 90 minutes in only a gown, with no information or counseling from my doctor, makes my pulse race even months later. (According to Torres, the pre-procedure counseling for LEEPs should take place in an office setting with the patient fully clothed.)

When I got home, after having used Twitter heavily during my lengthy wait for the doctor, I checked my feeds. Many people had responded with words of concern and love. Two of my best friends—knowing I have an anxiety disorder and that the lidocaine used to numb my cervix might still be causing heart palpitations in addition to the ones my body was producing on its own—had continued to check in on me while I was on the subway without cell phone service. Everyone, it seemed, was concerned with my health. 

Everyone except the anti-choicers who routinely harass me online for my abortion advocacy, that is. Their silence on my experience—and on the everyday experiences of patients who visit their doctors’ offices for procedures carrying risks similar to abortion—is deafening. They seem to trust medical professionals to perform all manner of non-abortion-related care without bystander intervention; do they not understand that the abortion specialty operates just like the rest of medicine? 

As with other medical fields, best practices for obstetrics and gynecology procedures are governed by associations of medical professionals like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Abortion Federation. Torres says that she spent time developing skills for both LEEPs and first-trimester abortions early on in her career; she considers the “level of surgical skill,” as she put it, required for each to be comparable. 

And the risks for both procedures are comparably negligible, too. The LEEP takes longer because of the time spent waiting for the lidocaine to fully numb the cervix (think the time you spend in the dentist’s chair waiting for the Novocain to kick in before a filling). According to Planned Parenthood, it’s rare to have issues requiring follow-up care after either procedure; the organization’s website counsels patients to watch for similar symptoms, including abnormally heavy bleeding or signs of infection such as fever or vomiting. 

When compared to my LEEP this August, my abortion experience four years earlier at a Planned Parenthood in Chicago was warm, comforting, less painful, and over much more quickly. In fact, I can theoretically see a more understandable case for some of the ASC guidelines being pertinent to the LEEP than to the abortion, as the former felt more invasive—the doctor wears a mask to keep the smoke produced during cauterization out of their eyes, and I was in stirrups more than twice as long. 

Still, no one is demanding legislation to regulate it. Nor, as Torres points out, are they rallying against colonoscopies, which are 40 times as risky as abortion, or dental procedures that require anesthesia.

“There are many riskier procedures done by other specialists in the office and no mention is made of their needing admitting privileges”—another common TRAP law—“or that their procedures require a surgical center,” said Torres. “No one demands [gastro-intestinal] specialists only perform [colonoscopies] in an ASC. Also, if you think about the sedation procedures dentists perform, those medications are also used in surgical procedures in ASCs yet dentists are not required to be in an ASC to use them.” 

In fact, Torres has never seen a law proposed to regulate how she performs any other procedures, including LEEPs, in her office—or how dentists and proctologists and plastic surgeons perform procedures in theirs. 

A LEEP, Torres said, “Saves the life of the patient. I don’t know why those who value life do not advocate for all surgical procedures be performed in ASCs if they are that convinced [ASCs] ‘safer’ and ‘saves lives’ over anything else.” 

She’s not advocating in favor of more of these laws, of course, as they increase the financial and logistic burden on both patients and providers, along with occasionally decreasing safety. She is simply pointing out the reality of which procedures get held up for additional scrutiny. 

“Medically, sometimes the office is safer for a procedure and sometimes the hospital is safer. That [decision] should be made by the medical professional—not the patient, not the lawyers, not the politicians,” said Torres.

“I’m prohibited from performing abortions in Utah hospitals, for example. You’d think that would be the ‘safest’ place, but state laws prohibit facilities receiving state funds from performing abortion—and all Utah hospitals receive state funds. Lots of contradiction,” she continued. “So, if I think I can’t safely perform the abortion in the office, even [one] with ASC standards, then I have to send the patient to another state. This happens all over the country.” 

The Growing Restrictions

Torres couldn’t be more right. Legislators in nearly every part of the country are wasting time and money exhibiting a complete disregard for women’s basic humanity as autonomous persons. Hundreds of laws have been introduced restricting abortions across the country. In fact, since Roe, nearly every state in the union has enacted legislation inserting the state house into exam rooms.

Why do we not trust providers and patients when it comes to one of the safest procedures in medicine? Because, apparently, the patient seeking an abortion has a uterus and presumably was so bold as to have sex, and that means legislators—overwhelmingly rich, white men—have a centuries-old right to dictate what happens next. While no one, not even an anti-abortion “advocate” or legislator, would deny me access to the procedures that have hopefully prevented me from developing cervical cancer, they don’t recognize my right to control the contents of my uterus.

The abortion that I know saved my life? That, anti-choicers feel compelled to weigh in on.

If “pro-life” organizations and legislators truly cared about women’s health, they would be campaigning for wider access to HPV screenings and vaccines. Or, just perhaps, they would stop to consider leaving it up to the experts: the doctors and patients. 

Certainly, the incoming wave of new Republican legislators following the 2014 midterms won’t lead to a lessening of the country-wide trend anytime soon. As Rewire has reported, Americans United for Life is well-funded thanks to wealthy donors like the Koch brothers; its model legislation is ready and waiting for right-wing legislators to introduce this January. Meanwhile, likely Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to introduce a federal 20-week ban in the Senate to match the one the now farther-to-the-right House passed last year. The president is opposed to the ban and would probably veto such legislation, but the national prominence of a bill pushed and passed “for women’s health and safety” gives undue validity to the state-level measures that will follow on its heels. 

Providers like Torres are not opposed to the public discourse and legislator interest in their profession; Torres simply takes issue with the motivation revealed by the way they circumvent evidence and care guidelines from physicians.

“I have no problem with elected representatives involving themselves in public health issues. I think political involvement in health care is necessary,” said Torres. “However, political dictation of how medical care is provided should not occur without the proper medical training and knowledge to support it … Just as I do not walk into a courtroom and start practicing law, they should not interfere with the safe, evidence-based health care [being provided] to their constituents.”

Analysis Politics

In Michigan Governor’s Race, Candidates Battle Over Economy, Reproductive Rights

Nina Liss-Schultz

This November, Michigan residents will decide whether to cast their vote for Republican incumbent Rick Snyder or long-time Democratic politician Mark Schauer in the gubernatorial election. The candidates have already begun to spar over the economy, education, and public health in the state, which will all be central issues leading up to the November election.

That Michigan is in the middle of a deep financial crisis is no secret. For the last decade, a combination of the flight of wealthier residents to the suburbs and the decay of the auto industry has left many Michigan cities on the brink of financial ruin. Detroit, the state’s largest city, declared bankruptcy a year ago, making it the most populous city in the country to ever do so. Since then, Detroit has made news for shutting off water to residents, for the overwhelming number of vacant and abandoned homes and buildings, and a maternal mortality rate three times higher than the national average and higher than rates of maternal mortality in Libya, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

Though Detroit has been the face of Michigan’s economic crisis, the state’s money woes go well beyond the Motor City: 12 municipalities, including Detroit, and five school districts are in serious financial stress, and many of those institutions have been taken over by emergency financial managers appointed by the state government, ostensibly in the hopes of keeping the municipalities afloat. Many others are on the brink.

This November, Michigan residents will decide whether to cast their vote for Republican incumbent Rick Snyder or long-time Democratic politician Mark Schauer in the gubernatorial election. The candidates have already begun to spar over the economy, education, and public health in the state, which will all be central issues leading up to the November election.

Economy and the Emergency Manager System

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The emergency manager system under Gov. Snyder has been perhaps the most controversial policy of the governor’s term so far. The system—in which officials appointed by the governor intervene in the finances of economically stressed municipalities—has existed in Michigan in some form since the late 1980s. Gov. Snyder, however, has drastically expanded the scope and jurisdiction of these managers. According to an MSNBC reporter, the system under Snyder has “economically transformed” the State of Michigan. It has been dubbed “Financial Martial Law” by advocates and “disaster capitalism” by opponents.

Schauer, a Democrat who represented Michigan in the U.S. House from 2009-2011 after more than a decade in state-level politics, has made the emergency manager system a central criticism of his opponent.

After taking office in 2011, Gov. Snyder made a move to revamp the system by signing into law Public Act 4, shortly after taking office in 2011. The act allowed emergency managers to essentially control city government at the behest of the state. Once the governor’s administration declares a financial emergency, managers are given power over elected officials and to change local statutes. The emergency manager can hire and fire local officials as they see fit, sell local assets, and change local law, among other things. PA 4 was repealed by a voter referendum the following year. Then, shortly after the repeal in 2012, Snyder signed into law another emergency manager bill, Public Act 436, which took effect in 2013.

As with PA 4, under Public Act 436, emergency managers take the place of the local government or governing body. The manager has the power to enact law by decree, disregard local law, cancel collective bargaining and union contracts, privatize existing services, and even dissolve the local municipality in some cases.

Unlike PA 4, PA 436 gives municipalities slightly more power. For example, after 18 months a local government or school district can vote to get rid of the emergency manager. It also has more options out the outset: when a financial crisis is declared, the municipality can choose between four types of emergency management systems. 

But the newer law also places some additional restrictions on Michigan residents’ ability to voice opposition to emergency managers, by including a provision that prohibits voters from repealing PA 436 through the referendum process, which was used to ax Public Act 4.

Many opponents to the legislation say that PA 436 is nearly identical to PA 4, and doesn’t address the public’s concerns with the system.

“The trouble with the emergency manager law is that the government shoved it down people’s throats,” says Shelli Weisberg, the legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan. Groups have attempted to recall Gov. Snyder twice during his term.

Though the title “emergency manager” implies that the city’s financial stress is due to mismanagement or incompetent bureaucrats, economic experts in the state say that in most cases, financial crises are the result of systemic economic issues, not municipal mismanagement. Eric W. Lupher, research director of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a fact-based, non-partisan research institution, says that Michigan has been in economic decay for over a decade. “The root of the problem is the rust-belt status of so many cities in Michigan,” Lupher told Rewire in an interview. While most of the nation rebounded after the post-9/11 recession, Michigan stayed in a rut. “Year after year, the economic growth of the state declined.” A combination of the move away from auto-manufacturing—a major source of revenue for the state—in the United States, and what Lupher calls “community disinvestment”—wherein the wealthy leave cities for the suburbs, leaving “behind communities that don’t have the tax base to support services”—Michigan cities and their residents have struggled to stay afloat.

Notably, as The Atlantic points out, African Americans are by far the majority population in cities and school districts controlled by emergency managers. While cities with emergency managers contain about 9 percent of Michigan’s population, they also contain an estimated half of the state’s Black population.

Schauer, along with his running mate Lisa Brown, has staunchly opposed Snyder’s economic policies and the emergency manager system, and has offered an alternative approach. This month, at a Netroots Nation conference in Detroit, Schauer criticized the emergency manager system saying it “sets aside elected officials … with accountability to only one person, and that’s the governor.”

At the conference, Schauer said that if elected governor he would scrap the emergency manager law and replace it with “financial transition teams” that would collaborate with local governments toward financial solvency.

Education

Schauer has also come out strong against Gov. Snyder’s education policies and the so-called education crisis in Michigan. “The single most important investment we can make in Michigan’s economy is the education of our children,” reads his website. “Mark will work to put students first by reversing Gov. Snyder’s devastating cuts to our schools and colleges.”

Though Snyder has recently taken steps to reinvest in the Michigan school system, according to the Michigan Education Association, “during his first year in office, Snyder cut school funding to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to big corporations—resources that children are not likely to recoup unless their classrooms are fully funded.” Despite the recent increase in funding, per-pupil investment in the state in 2015 will still be below the 2009 level. As of February, 46 school districts were operating with a budget deficit.

The education system is unique in Michigan: unlike in most places, school districts in the state are independent of, not run by, local governments. According to Lupher, the districts’ independence also leaves them uniquely vulnerable to economic issues. “In the Michigan cities that have experienced economic decline, the same is true of the school districts because they have that tax base.”

So in addition to the lack of government investment in schools, the systemic economic issues that caused the downturn in cities such as Detroit have also hit school districts hard.

That 46 schools are running a deficit is seemingly an improvement on 2013, when 50 schools were under water. The reason for the decrease, though, is not so encouraging: several schools were dissolved and several other struggling schools merged.

The state government has declared five school districts to be in a state of financial emergency, including the entire public school system of Detroit. The managers of at least two of those school districts have turned their public schools into charters, and hired private companies to manage them.

On his website, candidate Schauer says he plans to remove the profit motive from charter schools if elected governor. In July, Schauer released a ten-point plan, titled “Blueprint: A Michigan That Works for Everyone,” which calls for, in part, an increased investment in education.

Snyder has disputed Schauer’s criticism, saying that he has increased both state funding of the K-12 system and early childhood education. According to Michigan Live, Snyder says he has increased funding to classrooms by “$660 more per student.” That claim is misleading, however, because it’s not all going directly to the classroom and is instead going to other parts of the education system, including fulfillment of teachers’ retirement plans.

Reproductive Health Care 

Though fiduciary concerns may take center stage in the run up to the November election, access to health care, and particularly reproductive care, has been a lightning rod in the state during Snyder’s term.

Snyder and Schauer have made clear and distinct names for themselves in relation to their position on abortion and reproductive rights. According to the ACLU’s Shelli Weisberg, Snyder has tried to remain as neutral as possible on the issue. “From the beginning he’s said it’s not one of his top priorities.” But, while Snyder has taken a stand against at least one piece of extreme anti-choice legislation, during his term some of the most controversial anti-choice legislation in the country has made its way through Michigan’s legislature, whether by his signature or through alternative legislative processes.

In December 2013, Michigan lawmakers passed the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act, which has become known as the “Rape Insurance Act,” banning private insurance plans from covering abortion in most cases, including rape or incest, and unless the woman buys coverage through a separate rider. The bill became law without the governor’s signature, because it had been introduced through the citizen’s initiative process, which does not require one.

According to the Huffington Post, the year before the legislation passed there were 23,230 abortions in Michigan, and fewer than 4 percent of abortions were paid by insurers. Abortions can cost anywhere between $500 and $10,000, depending on the circumstances.

Notably, Gov. Snyder had vetoed a similar measure the year before. According to the Detroit Free Press, Snyder said he wanted to remain moderate on the issue of abortion. “I’m a pro-life person … but still, I wanted to strike a balance.”

Though the governor’s veto in 2012 was a win for women, he also signed into law several pieces of anti-choice legislation during his term. During his first year in office, Gov. Snyder signed into law a “partial-birth” abortion ban, Public Act 168, which makes it a felony to perform so-called partial-birth abortions, itself a misnomer and myth.

Candidate Schauer voted against earlier iterations of the legislation while serving in Michigan’s state government.

The next year, Snyder signed into law an omnibus anti-choice bill, which included a targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) provision imposing the same regulations on abortion clinics that are required of hospital operating rooms, and a ban on tele-medicine prescriptions for first-trimester medication abortions.

Aside from the legislation it has introduced, the Michigan legislature has made a name for itself as traditionalist and anti-woman. Most recently, a local reporter tweeted a picture of three state representatives reading fashion magazines and quoted them saying, “Don’t say we don’t understand women.” And in 2012, Lisa Brown, who is now running alongside Schauer for lieutenant governor, was notoriously barred from speaking on the house floor after saying the word “vagina.”

Weisberg says that the GOP’s reputation will hurt Snyder in the race, and will only add to Schauer economic case against the governor. “Keeping the government out of the exam room, and ‘This isn’t my boss’s business’” are salient issues for women in the state right now. “I think that women’s rights will play an important role, mostly around birth control and women being treated as second-class citizens in terms of their health-care needs,” she says.

Though Weisberg says that Republicans in the state, including Snyder, will try to come off as neutral on gender equality and reproductive justice in order to get the women’s vote, in the lead up to November Schauer will do his best to position himself in opposition to Snyder’s politics, both economic and social.

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