As the House prepared to vote on HB 5711, the omnibus anti-abortion “super-bill” that would enact TRAP legislation in the form of clinic licensing and mandating the disposal of products of conception, as well as ban abortions after 20 weeks, critics and supporters jockeyed to sway the legislators to their side. While “right to life” activists herald the bill as common sense legislation that protects women rather than cuts off access to abortion services, reproductive rights supporters make it clear that the end game is to make abortion impossible to obtain.
Rebecca J. Mastee, a policy advocate for the Michigan Catholic Conference told Huffington Post, “Our support for the legislation is based on the dignity of women and, despite the injustice of the abortion procedure, a woman’s right to enter a ‘medical’ facility that is not of third world standards.”
The Catholic Conference argues that rolling the separate proposals into one massive “super-bill” highlights how important the restrictions are and reflects the “important nature of the proposed legislation.”
Those who opposed the bill marched on the capitol to ensure their voices were heard as as well. MLive reports, “A couple hundred demonstrators connected with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and other groups rallied at the Capitol and some of them ringed the building’s rotunda. The pink-attired crowd clapped and shouted ‘this is our house’ while waiting for House lawmakers to settle in for an afternoon session.”
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Opponents of the bill and its individual measures argued that they were not allowed to testify during committee discussion last week, leaving the impression that these bills weren’t hotly contested by reproductive rights advocates. They have called the measures “confusing, contradictory and covered by state laws.”
The main concern is that the licensing requirements on clinic could force some, if not all, providers to shut down all together. “This is a complete overreach and will end up shutting down 28 of the 32 clinics that perform abortions,” Lori Lamerand, board chairwoman of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press.
A small group of counter-demonstrators showed up at the capitol as well, urging passage of the bill as “protection” for women, but mostly protection for the fetuses and embryos they are terminating. “I am a strong believer in life and I believe the baby’s rights should be protected and I really want these bills to go through because I think they are also helping women. They are protecting them at the same time as the baby, too,” said Jennah Sailor, a member of the University of Michigan chapter of Students for Life, who was protesting the protesters.
The House had about 20 minutes of debate and the only unexpected moment was Rep. Rashida Tlaib urging the women of the state to stop having sex with men until they rejected these anti-women bills. Despite the call for a sex boycott, the House voted 70 to 39 to pass the bill, an unsurprising result since nearly two-thirds of the Michigan House have been endorsed by Michigan Right to Life or other local anti-choice groups.
The senate is expected to not take up the bill until September.