With the hope that Michigan can legislate away a women’s right to an abortion, pro-life groups have successfully convinced state representatives to take action. The state House recently passed a bill that requires women undergoing an abortion to review footage from personal ultrasounds taken before the procedure. Meanwhile, the Citizens for Life Coalition and other Michigan pro-life advocacy groups are preparing a petition campaign for a state constitutional amendment that would codify life as beginning at the moment of conception. Although operating independent of one another, the ultrasound legislation and the petition drive each scrape the bottom of the anti-abortion barrel as last-ditch attempts to restrict women’s reproductive rights.

Sarah Royce

While Roe v. Wade protects the reproductive rights of women by requiring that states avoid placing an undue burden on the woman during the first trimester, it also gives states a certain leeway in regulating abortion. As courts have struck down a number of laws meant to restrict access to abortion since Roe, abortion opponents are turning to more creative tactics.

Under the Senate-approved ultrasound bill, doctors would have to give a woman seeking an abortion a chance to see the results of an ultrasound should one be administered. Although the state Senate removed some of the bill’s more heavy-handed provisions – which would have required women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound even when it is not medically necessary – the legislation’s intent is still clear.

The bill attempts to use emotion as a way of manipulating a woman’s decision to have an abortion. The decision to have an abortion is an emotionally draining choice. But by tugging at a woman’s heartstrings, it would cruelly place an undue psychological burden on a woman who has already made what is likely one of the hardest and most painful decisions she will ever have to make.

The Citizens for Life Coalition’s proposed state constitutional amendment is an even more transparent attack on the rights laid out in Roe v. Wade. By equating life with conception, it could cause even a first-trimester abortion to be legally defined as terminating a life.

Ultimately, any lasting and definitive decision about the fate of women’s reproductive freedom will lie with the U.S. Supreme Court. But unlike the small battles waged at the state level, the Court cannot be lobbied. So, while progressively more insidious attacks threaten the legacy of Roe v. Wade, it will be up to the foresight of judges to extract politics from the cases that they will no doubt be hearing and ensure the case’s still sacred precedent is not circumvented.

Until that happens, the state-level attack on women’s reproductive rights will continue, and the amended ultrasound bill will now go back to the state House for approval. In light of these attempts to circumvent Roe v. Wade – or at least shame women into having children they never wanted to have – it is up to Michigan residents to pressure their state legislators to oppose such attacks on women’s reproductive rights.

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