Abortion

Michigan Anti-Abortion Law Sparks Sex Boycott, Vagina Fear

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It's gonna be a dry summer in Michigan, boys.

Michigan lawmaker Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) is calling for a statewide sex boycott after the state legislature's lower house passed a slate of bills designed to restrict access abortion services—under the guise of protecting women's health. 

"We're launching a war on women. Stop having sex with us, gentlemen, and I ask women to boycott men until they stop moving this through the House."

The 45-page cockblock in question aims to regulate nearly every aspect of reproductive health services, from rigid restrictions on health centers to targeting physicians who provide abortion services. Taking a cue from restrictive legislation passed in Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia, one of the nation's most severe anti-abortion bill burdens both women and health care providers with onerous regulations by:

  1. Criminalizing all abortions after 20 weeks: Under the omnibus package, women in Michigan could face criminal charges for seeking abortion services after 20 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or when the woman's health is at risk. Since fetal abnormality scans are not performed until about 20 weeks into the pregnancy, Michigan women will not be able to explore abortion options even if their child is at risk for Down Syndrome or other conditions—at least, not without facing legal woes and fines.
  2. Restricting reproductive health services for rural women: The legislation requires physicians to be present when prescribing the abortion pill or emergency contraceptives—meaning no more over-the-phone prescribing. For women in rural areas, what's easily accomplished by a phone call with a doctor may soon require hours of travel to meet face-to-face with a physician. (This, despite the fact that recent studies have demonstrated that telemedicine is a safe and effective way to provide medication abortions.) The morning-after-pill is more effective the sooner its taken, which means the bill not only makes it difficult to terminate unwanted pregnancies, it also makes it harder to prevent them.
  3. Regulating abortion clinics into oblivion: The legislation requires health centers that perform more than six abortions a month to be equipped with operational surgery rooms, even if they don't provide surgical abortions. The result: many reproductive health centers will close due to lack of adequate funds.

Supporters of the bill maintain that the legislation is designed to protect women and their health. What remains unclear, however, is exactly how tricky regulations, threats of criminal sanction, and unnecessary equipment will help achieve that end.

What Michigan women need more than ever is an open, honest discussion of the issue at hand—but even that seems impossible for the Great Lake State. Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) was prohibited from speaking in the legislature on its final day in session after using the word vagina in a floor speech on Thursday. Because there's definitely no good reason to use the appropriate medical term for a female reproductive organ during a hearing on abortions, right? Perhaps next time, Brown can show a little self-restraint and use an appropriate euphemism: "Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered you're all so interested in my furburger. But no means no."