From the Daily: The right to choose

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published September 25, 2011

Partial-birth abortion has been a morally controversial topic. With the passage of a new bill in the Michigan state legislature, partial-birth abortions are now illegal by state law, on top of the federal ban already in place by the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 passed by the U.S. Congress. If the state legislation is enacted, performing a partial-birth abortion would be a two-year felony. While partial-birth abortion is a difficult subject, the reality is that women should have the right to decide what to do with their bodies. The state ban is redundant given the federal ban already in place. But more importantly, the government shouldn't interfere in private, individual decisions.

Partial-birth abortion is a complicated procedure that involves the death of a fetus after the second trimester. The procedure was performed in less than 2 percent of abortions, according to 1999 data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While partial birth abortions are a complicated issue from a moral standpoint, the larger issue is the government’s restriction of individual rights.

The recent bill, which will head to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk after the conference committee has reviewed it, models the federal law and makes the procedure punishable under state law. Since the law was upheld in the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision Gonzales v. Carhart, there's no reason to believe it will be repealed any time soon.

Taking time to pass state legislation that reaffirms a federal law is an insult to Michigan citizens. Instead of focusing on bills to create jobs and help rebuild the state’s economy, the Legislature is focusing on prohibiting an already banned procedure. If there was evidence that partial-birth abortions were performed in large numbers throughout the state this legislation would be somewhat explicable, but partial-birth abortion procedures are rare. The state government is unnecessarily pushing a social issue, and it needs to focus its attention on Michigan’s more pressing concerns.

The legality of abortion indicates the constitutional support for a woman’s right to choose. Partial-birth abortions is a contentious topic, but it’s not up to the government to permit or prohibit the procedure. Women should speak with doctors and other health professionals to make an appropriate, personal decision. By speaking with a doctor, they can educate themselves on the health implications of the procedure and make a responsible personal choice.

The argument isn't about the moral implications of abortion. Rather, it’s about government intervention in personal decisions. A woman should have the right to make her own decisions about her body and an unborn child she may bare. In today’s economic climate, Michigan doesn't have the luxury to spend time and resources on partisan, social policies. Snyder should reaffirm his commitment to tackling the state’s pressing issues and veto this bill.