Reproductive rights are under assault across the United States, including here in Michigan. During an embattled legislative spring session, state senate and house Republicans voted to ban a standard abortion procedure as an ode to their far-right donors.
A few weeks later, so-called heartbeat bills to further undermine abortion access were quietly introduced.
With the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals now upholding Title X restrictions on health-care providers’ ability to discuss abortion with their patients, the need for a frank discussion about—and swift action against—the elephant in the womb is imperative.
Instead of accepting standard medical protocol backed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, right-wing conservatives are resorting to misogynistic rhetoric and colorful language designed to evoke fear—and incite hysterical rage—in those who share their unscientific, non-medical, and often theocratic beliefs. The Michigan and U.S. Constitution both state that theocratic-based arguments have no place in defining legislation.
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Meanwhile, two four-bill packages that would repeal 1931 state laws banning abortions await action in the Republican-majority Michigan legislature. These bills need to be moved so all women—including our LGBTQ community members—have access to the reproductive health care that they may need and deserve, and to which they have a fundamental right.
The widespread assault on reproductive rights has been a long time coming, yet the irony is not lost that the latest assaults are being carried out by the same type of conservative group who, just seven years ago, were so frightened of the word “vaginas” being uttered aloud during house session—during a floor speech by a woman, nonetheless, who used the term appropriately when speaking about health insurance riders covering abortions—that they banned her from speaking it.
Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature and executive branch had every opportunity to ban abortion over the past eight years, but they didn’t. Instead, they chose to substantially underinvest in roads and infrastructure, communities, and public education. The very issues and policies that would improve the lives of individuals, their families, and communities continue to be neglected and dismissed, all while they wear their pro-life veils.
Well, pro-life, my ass. Let me be absolutely clear: Anti-abortion measures are not about preserving or respecting life. They are about controlling the lives of others and their access to reproductive health care. They are about the elephant in the womb: far-right Republicans and their donors, who are more interested in banning abortions than they are in ensuring that public schools are adequately funded; that people have access to quality, affordable, comprehensive health care throughout their lives; that folks are paid living wages; and that everyone has access to fresh air and clean drinking water.
So-called pro-life lawmakers continue to focus their efforts on regulating the bodies of people with a uterus and interfering with the professional guidance of trained medical professionals. If we, as legislators, are willing to meddle in the judgment of doctors and restrict access to reproductive health care, where does it stop?
When ballot drives circulate on this matter, I challenge you to ask signature gatherers about their motives—and decline to sign their forms. These legislative restrictions, ballot initiatives, and gag orders aren’t about saving babies, children, or “poor, unfortunate, unwed mothers,” as I’ve heard. They’re about two things: men, primarily, aiming to limit the bodily autonomy and decision-making of others, and theocratical-based thinking from people who neither understand science, nor believe in human rights.
Medical care should be solely determined by science and patient need—not right-wing theocratic ideology. It’s time to get the elephant out of the womb.