May 23, 2008
Special interest group threatens to hold its breath if it doesn’t get its way
Right to Life of Michigan’s ban on so-called “partial birth abortions” failed to be taken up in the Michigan House Thursday, prompting a threat from RTF to throw themselves on the ground and throw a fit on the next session day on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 776 has been in the House since January when the Senate approved it by a vote of 24-12. RTF has been pushing it extremely hard, despite the fact here is already a federal ban on the rare procedure, and the unnecessary bill will not prevent one single abortion in the state of Michigan. It is also not a legislative issue or even a state issue. This is just one more “gottcha” issue that RTF plans to use to attack politicians in November who don’t vote their way, and RTF’s chief lobbyist said as much at a legislative lobby day in Lansing last month when he said they will use it to roast legislators.
Apparently, behind the scene negotiations to bring the vote to the floor are tied to moving a package of House bills – according to subscription only Gongwer - that would make more information about emergency contraceptives available to the public, and allow victims of sexual assault to receive the contraceptive if they request it as well as penalize pharmacists who refuse to do their job and fill a person's legitimate prescription. House Bills 6048-6050 were reported favorably out of the Judiciary Committee earlier this month.
I would have no problem supporting this bill in order to get some useful and commons sense family planning measures in place because SB 776 means nothing and will not stop one single abortion. However, the Democrats who vote their conscience and vote no will be targeted.
Subscription only MIRS reported RTF “will work to effectively shut down the House on Tuesday by telling members that casting votes (yes or no) on any legislation that's brought up that isn't the partial-birth abortion ban will be considered a vote against it.” Talk about selfish, one-issue voters.
Another far right group, Lansing-based so-called Citizens for Traditional Values, has joined the fray, and they are urging their members to blast lawmakers with phone calls and emails. When I hear the words “traditional values” I am wary. What so-called traditional values do they mean? Do they mean the traditional values of slave-holding, racial and religious discrimination, Jim Crow and when only male landowners could vote?
The obvious question is why one, single-issue special interest group has so much power? This, again, is not a legislative or a state issue, but they still wield so much power.
This fiasco comes on the heels of news that the Department of Community Health announced that the number of abortions declined again last year, a trend that has held true since 1987. DCH announced that there were 24,683 abortions in the state last year, down from 25,636 in 2006. We can thank groups like Planned Parenthood that provide family planning and birth control and contraceptives to all woman, including low income women, as well as providing preventive health care and gynecological medical services.
The simple fact is family planning prevents unintended pregnancies and reduces the number of abortions, as well as the rate of infant mortality, low birth weight babies and sexually transmitted infections. I am pro-choice, but anti-abortion and I would love to see that number of 24,683 abortions fall to zero. We are not, however, going to reach that number by outlawing abortions. Outlawing abortions will never happen because the Republicans would lose the political clout it has with RTL, and how would they whip up the troops. If we reach the goal of zero abortions we will see the demise of a powerful political group, and that’s even more good news.
They would have to fall back on the old reliable rallying causes of gays and guns.