Community Nurse

*Community Nurse is a reoccurring feature that highlights opportunities for activism across the country* 

The Crazy Train Just Pulled into Michigan Station

Oh, Michigan…you just couldn’t let Wisconsin soak in the limelight of conservatism for too long, could you? I know there is a whole Badger/Wolverine rivalry, but honestly, you could have at least given the Dairy State one full day of being “King of the Crazy” before trying to snatch the crown away.

In a move that will surely place The Mitten State squarely in the middle of the War on Women, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that the Michigan House is considering passing a controversial set of bills designed to restrict and regulate abortion practices. Supporters of the bills argue that the legislation is necessary to protect women from unsafe facilities and negligent practitioners. Doctors, however, testified before the legislators that the bills are “overly broad and vague, and would discourage physicians from coming to practice in Michigan.”

How are the legislators planning on “protecting” the women of Michigan? According to The Detroit News, House Bills 5711, 5712 and 5713 would “require abortion clinics to be licensed surgical centers, outline new requirements for disposing of the remains of aborted fetuses and make it crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion.” Sounds like these mostly male, mostly Republican legislators really, really care about women, right? Well, not so fast. According to Planned Parenthood, and backed up by the physicians who testified before the state legislature, the proposed set of bills would, in fact, act as a back-door ban on abortion  and will put women’s lives at risk.

Planned Parenthood took to the web to alert Michiganders of the dangers of the proposed legislation:

The intention of this legislation is to completely shut down all abortion providers by instituting targeted, harmful, and medically unnecessary regulation on health centers that provide abortion services. . . . This is an attempt to shut down all abortion providers in the state in a backdoor attempt to ban abortion. If these attacks succeed, women will pay the price. They will pay with their rights, their health, and their lives. 

This legislation is an outright attack on physicians’ ability to practice medicine. Under these bills, doctors would be forced to go against their best medical knowledge when providing services to patients. It allows medicine to be dictated by politics, not by science. Furthermore, the legislation singles out doctors that perform abortion care.

It is filled with many aspects that violate standard obstetric practice, interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, and are dangerous to women’s health. It puts increased liability on physicians and sends the message that politicians, not doctors, know what is best for women. Included in this legislation is a restrictive ban seeking to limit access to abortion services. The ban goes against the ruling of Roe v. Wade. Moreover, it does NOT include an exemption for rape, incest, fetal anomaly, or health of the woman, and it leaves women in an emergency situation in peril.

Scary stuff, right? Michigan just ratcheted up the crazy in the ongoing efforts of conservatives to restrict women’s reproductive choices. There is something you can do, however, especially if you are a Michigander:

Votes for women. Flickr

Planned Parenthood has provided an easy petition that you can fill out on-line and send to your representative. It is vitally important to let our legislators know that we will not stand by and watch the last forty years of progress be systematically stripped away from women. If you are not a Michigander, consider donating to the Michigan chapters of Planned Parenthood here or here. They are going to need a tremendous amount of support in the coming weeks.

Jacqueline Antonovich is the creator and co-founder of Nursing Clio and served as executive editor from 2012 to 2021. She is an Assistant Professor of History at Muhlenberg College. Her current research focuses on women physicians, race, gender, and medical imperialism in the American West. Jacqueline received her PhD from the University of Michigan in 2018.