Update: Michigan Keeping Shaming Wands Out of Women’s Vaginas (For Now)

In a midwinter miracle, the powers that be in the Michigan legislature have decided that maybe it’s not the best idea to require that women who want abortions must undergo transvaginal ultrasounds. House Speaker Rep. Jase Bolger has said that he has “no interest in forcing a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound …This House of Representatives will not pass a bill mandating transvaginal ultrasounds.”

While it’s heartening that rational thought has prevailed in this specific matter, it’s important to note that this doesn’t indicate any great desire to stay out of women’s private health decisions. After all, the state passed an abortion “super bill” late last year that, among other things, banned telemed abortions and introduced structural requirements that could force clinics to close.




Bills, Bills, Bills

Congratulations, Mississippi, you’re a trendsetter. As anti-choice politicians push forward in their bid to close the last abortion clinic in the state, legislators in North Dakota are seeking to close their state’s only clinic, too. Yesterday, state lawmakers passed a bill that requires physicians providing abortions at the Red River Clinic in Fargo to have admitting privileges at area hospitals—the same tactic that is threatening Mississippi’s Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO).

The Red River clinic has often been the target of harassment and threats, and the physicians that work there don’t actually live in the state; in an arrangement similar to the one at JWHO, they travel from other states to provide abortion care. It’s too early to tell if hospitals in the Fargo area will grant these privileges, but as Amanda Marcotte pointed out in The American Prospect, “The chances of the doctors getting the privileges now are low, because hospitals don’t want to draw the same protests” as the clinic has faced.

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What an Ohio Dry Cleaner Has to do With Michigan Politicians

You might have missed this story if you don’t watch The Daily Show or read RH Reality Check, but a dry cleaner in Ohio has been putting “Choose Life” messaging on, of all things, wire coat hangers. This strikes me as a pretty brazen action, and not just because wire coat hangers are, to put it mildly, fairly loaded images when it comes to abortion. It’s also because this dry cleaner is, as best as I can tell, a private business whose day-to-day activities, not to mention income, have nothing to do with the abortion issue.

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Ohio’s Talking Fetus Moves to Michigan, Requests Tax Credit

Just in case there was any doubt that the more accurate term for the anti-abortion movement is “pro-fetus,” lawmakers in Michigan recently held hearings on two bills that would grant tax exemptions for a fetus that is over twelve weeks’ gestation.

House Bills 5684 and 5685 were sponsored by Republican Reps. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (not making that name up!) and Jud Gilbert II, respectively. Lyons has served on the board of directors of a crisis pregnancy center; on that CPC’s website are a slew of misleading statements about the risks of abortion as well as incorrect information about fetal development.

This proposed legislation is particularly galling given that last year, the state cut tax credits for children—341,000 of whom, according to Think Progress, “live in high-poverty areas.”

So, just to recap: fetuses deserve tax breaks, but actual children—those that exist independently and require food and shelter—do not.  Pro-life?  Not if you’re actually alive.  Michigan’s state legislature is heavily Republican, but many of these Republicans represent moderate and pro-choice constituencies, so if you live in Michigan, please call or write your state Rep and tell them to vote against these pro-fetus, anti-child bills!

Maybe Footlooose Was Ahead of the Curve

Earlier this month, Michigan Representative Lisa Brown drew the ire of her male colleagues for using the word “vagina” on the House floor. Her comment, “Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’” was made while the state’s politicians were discussing proposed anti-choice legislation that is considered to be among the strictest in the country.

As Brown recalls, there was no immediate reaction from her colleagues until the following day, when she and Rep. Barb Byrum were informed that Republican House leaders had barred the two women from speaking on the House floor. “Given my speech, I could only assume it was because I spoke to my Jewish values or because I had said vagina,” she writes in an article published last week. “But later that day, Rep. Mike Callton told the press that what I had said was so vile, so disgusting, that he could never bear to mention it in front of women or “mixed company. … Since we share the same religion, I’m guessing he wasn’t referring to my kosher sets of dishes. Even though Callton has a bachelor’s degree in biology and worked as a chiropractor, it was the word “vagina” that did him in.”

Oh those delicate Michigan men, done in by an anatomically correct term! Perhaps they will find sympathy among equally squeamish politicians of Tennessee, who voted this week to bar “gateway sexual activity” yet were unable to verbalize just what that meant. In lieu of the bill’s supporters being able to use their words, critics of the bill – which is intended to promote teen abstinence – have dubbed it the “no hands-holding bill.” [Read more...]

Is Michigan the Next Arizona?

When one thinks of traditionally anti-choice states, Michigan likely doesn’t float to the top of the list. Unfortunately, that’s about to change. According to Ms. Magazine’s blog, just this week anti-choice zealots in the Michigan legislature introduced three bills designed to make abortion virtually inaccessible in the Great Lakes state.

The bills (H.B. 5711, 5712 and 5713) each represent major attacks on abortion rights, but when packaged together are an all-out blitz. They have already passed through committee and apparently, anti-choice politicos are trying to push them through the House for a full vote before the legislative session ends on June 28th.

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Pro-Choice News Roundup

Mississippi Personhood Amendment Fails. Newsy

Women out in front in defeat of Initiative 26. Hattiesburg American.

Defeating Personhood: A Critical but Incomplete Victory for Reproductive Justice. RH Reality Check.

FemPop’s Guide to Sexism in Gaming Forums. FemPop.

Michigan Attorney General seeks closure of two abortion clinics. Detroit Free Press.

Mondays with Marlo: Gloria Steinem. Huffington Post.

Pro-Choice News Roundup

Focus on the Family: 7 of their strangest and more appalling moments. Alternet

Michigan State Passes Abortion Bill. The Detroit News.

Rick Perry’s Legislation Forces Abortion Restrictions on Austin. Burnt Orange Report.

NPR chides itself on “Abortion Doctor” reference. Radio Survivor.

The CPC in My Old Backyard

Image courtesy of cpcwatch.org

I grew up in the crazy-liberal town of Ann Arbor, Michigan and got my undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan. So it’s fair to say that I know the city pretty well, and I thought I knew what I’d see when I went back to visit my parents last week. And sure enough, there were the usual assortment of indie stores and cafes and university buildings … but there was also a crisis pregnancy clinic smack in the middle of downtown, two blocks from the center of campus.

When I spotted the purple-and-white signboard for ArborWoman resting on the sidewalk, its graceful script advertising free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, I turned to my mother. “I will bet you money that’s a CPC,” I said, committing the center’s website to memory so I could look up its website when we got home. And sure enough, once I clicked onto the clinic’s web page about “post-abortion syndrome,” my suspicions were confirmed.

CPC supporters defend their clinics by claiming that they are just providing assistance and options for pregnant women. Yet it is undeniable that crisis pregnancy clinics spread misinformation to people that, quite reasonably, come in expecting help. There is no scientific evidence that abortion causes mental health problems, for instance, yet ArborWoman lists “suicidal thoughts” and “suicide attempts,” along with a host of other mental health issues, as symptoms that women may experience after an abortion. Legislators are starting to pay attention to CPCs’ deceptive practices: Austin and Baltimore have passed laws requiring the CPCs disclose what services they actually provide; New York and San Francisco are considering similar regulations. [Read more...]

Monday News Roundup

dogs in costumesHappy Monday, all. I hope you’re recovered from sugar comas and that Halloween was a raucous good time. We only had 10 trick-or-treaters show up the whole night, so the dog as a bit disappointed that he got all dressed up for no reason at all. But onto more pertinent matters . . .

Michigan Introduces Personhood Bill – Feminist Majority Foundation
Randall Terry to Launch Attack on Focus on the Family – Right Wing Watch
Dr. Tiller’s Former Security Guard Found Dead – RH Reality Check
Obama to Announce End of HIV Travel Ban – Gaypolitics.com

After the jump there’s a few videos of my homegirl Hillary talking about her views on reproductive rights. [Read more...]