Michigan’s State Representative Lisa Brown is no longer banned from using the word vagina in the State’s House Chamber. On Friday, in the wee hours of the morning, Representative Brown spoke with the passion that surely embodied for the women whom she represents, but also for many who she does not. She did it at 1:30 AM Friday. She was not preparing for a speech that she would present on a bill that had previously caused her ban. She was doing it in the presence of her fellow legislators.
She was speaking against HB 5711, which some have called an abortion super bill. It’s one that saw immense opposition in June of this year. It was left alone until recently. Like many other bills in the current lame duck session in the Michigan legislature, bills that would surely have died, were being acted on at an alarmingly fast rate. Representative Brown was not doing it to create a scene, or to have a moment in the spotlight. She was doing it because the bill and its amendments contained some of the most restrictive changes to a Michigan woman’s right to choose what to do with her body.
One of the changes that the bill detailed was to prevent the use of telemedicine for women in rural areas, where a woman is wanting to choose to end a pregnancy through non-surgical abortion, sometimes called a pill abortion. It now requires that a doctor be present when the pill is given, and that the women be given a complete physical exam before the approval is given. Not only does this make for a hardship for women living in rural areas where healthcare is limited, but also it’s an obvious strike against women. The fact is, Michigan’s Governor, Rick Synder (R), had signed in a bill just six months before that prevented insurers companies from the very same requirement of face to face consultations over telemedicine.
Another part makes requirements of providers. It would require that doctors who do more than 120 surgical abortions in a year, to practice in a licensed free-standing outpatient facility. This requirement would essentially force the vast majority of clinics to make huge additions or completely rebuild their facilities. Since this same requirement is not one for doctors who provide other surgical procedures, it is clear that these unneeded and costly requirements are being instituted simply because of the nature of the procedures. A representative for the Michigan State Medical Society said its members opposed the requirements because they are not necessary.
One other sweeping change is the definition of a fetus. The bill added a portion that required the official who runs the facility to report on all dead fetus that are at least 20 weeks in gestation and weigh at least 400 grams. The requirement in the bill states that
“the individual in charge of the institution or his or her authorized representative shall prepare and file the FETAL DEATH report AND SHALL FOLLOW THE PROTOCOLS IN PLACE FOR THE INSTITUTION IN THE EVENT OF A DEATH THAT OCCURS AFTER A LIVE BIRTH BUT BEFORE BEING DISCHARGED FROM THE INSTITUTION.”
This requirement essentially equates a fetus with any other person who dies. It further reads that if a woman has a miscarriage, that she is required to report the miscarriage, and that the same procedures need to be followed. Although identifying information is forbidden, it still requires that the fetus be registered as a death in the state’s vital statistics. This portion also adds that the fetal remains of at least 10 weeks gestation be disposed of by cremation or internment. Yes, you can now have a funeral for your aborted fetus.
It is no wonder Lisa Brown and her fellow Democrats were disgusted and frustrated by the blatant disregard for woman’s health. Even though all amendments they proposed were shouted down via voice votes, I have a feeling Lisa Brown and her fellow Democrats have not resigned themselves in this matter. Since Friday, Representative Brown has spoken out about what happened. She did this because the bill was passed under a lame duck legislature, which means that what one legislature passes, the next one overturns.
Here’s the video: