State Sen. Rebekah Warren (D–Ann Arbor) and state Rep. Ronnie Peterson (D–Ypsilanti) spoke at the Riverside Art Center in downtown Ypsilanti to over 40 people on behalf of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan’s third and final Field Hearing Monday night. They discussed the current battle against the Republican health care bill in the Senate and its effects on women’s health if passed.
Warren’s speech, which followed a brief informational session by Emily Clancy, Planned Parenthood Advocate organizer, weighed in on how she believes Democrats have depended too long on the federal backstep of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling to protect and defend legal abortions, forcing the GOP to depend on states to funnel their own anti-abortion legislation.
“The states have really become incubators, kind of laboratories, of anti-choice legislation,” Warren said. “We haven’t worried that much, as much as probably we should have, because we have Roe v. Wade, and we know that it laid out some really important tenants that we thought were there to protect us for a very long time.”
In reference to the state of Michigan’s Informed Consent for Abortion law created in 1993 — which requires women to have certain information be made available for at least 24 hours prior to undergoing abortion procedures — she discussed the increasing amount of legislative efforts passed by the GOP making it more difficult for women to have access to an abortion.
“I think, as women, this is one of the most insulting pieces of legislation we have on the books,” Warren said. “I don’t know any woman who has ever found herself, even for a moment, in the event she might have an unintended pregnancy, who doesn’t put a lot of thought into what the outcomes of that might be.”
Since the recent movement to defund Planned Parenthood, Warren also spoke about the importance of spreading transparency about misconceptions of Medicaid-funded abortions in Michigan where, since the Hyde Amendment of 1988, Michigan has banned the use of federal Medicaid funds towards abortions except for instances of rape and incest.
“Planned Parenthood does zero abortions in this state with federal money,” Warren said. “The only abortions that can be funded with state Medicaid money right now are just in the category of rape and incest.”
She went on to say, after asking the Department of Health about how much state funding actually went to the fund for abortions falling under that category, the search came up blank.
“They couldn’t find a single one,” Warren said.
In reference to the other health care services that Planned Parenthood provides, such as STI testing, she argues the GOP movement to defund Planned Parenthood is really about removing comprehensive, basic health care.
“When they’re talking about defunding Planned Parenthood or restricting Planned Parenthood’s access to Medicaid dollars, they’re talking about real health care for people,” she said. “They’re talking about the health care that really makes a difference.”
Peterson spoke briefly after Warren about the need to advocate for Planned Parenthood not where it’s popular, but where it will have the biggest impact in the 2018 election cycle.
“It’s so important that you come in a district like this (Ypsilanti) and be comfortable,” Peterson said. “But be prepared to put on your gym shoes and walking shoes to go in districts where Planned Parenthood issues are not popular and that those who feel frightened or fearful to voice their concerns need you to go in there next election and voice that concern about that legislator or politician.”
Clinical social worker Craig VanKempen, who works with the Corner Health Center in downtown Ypsilanti, attended the event because his work shares the same philosophy as Planned Parenthood.
“We really see them as a partner,” VanKempen said. “We want to make sure that everyone has access to comprehensive sex education as well as access to birth control and preventative health services.”