News article on Rewire

Posted on March 28, 2017

Pro-Choice Michigan Lawmakers Ready to Go on Offense

by Michelle D. Anderson

“The best way to fight back is with a strong, sustained effort to drive proactive policies—and the public debate about such policies—in states, cities, and counties,” said Gloria Totten, president of the Public Leadership Institute.

Michigan Democrats have joined a national pro-choice campaign by introducing resolutions affirming abortion is indeed health care.

Two resolutions, SR 15 and HR 16, celebrate the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade and the right to reproductive health-care access in the face of a flurry of state-level restrictions eroding abortion access.

The resolutions are part of a campaign by the Public Leadership Institute (PLI), a Washington, D.C.-based justice-focused nonprofit policy center.

“The campaign provides a platform to talk about abortion rights and draw attention to the hypocrisy of the anti-choice legislation,” Aimee Z. Arrambide, program manager and reproductive rights policy specialist at PLI, told Rewire in a phone interview.

Arrambide said in an email that, as of Monday, state lawmakers in 30 states and four localities including the District of Columbia have introduced 109 “abortion-out-loud bills.”

She noted that Hawaii lawmakers have introduced some bold policies that have gained some traction in the Democratic-dominated legislature. They include SB 501 and HB 663, which require crisis pregnancy centers, or fake clinics, to stop breaking privacy laws and to make it clear that they don’t provide abortion care or contract with coverage providers.

PLI has drafted and identified model legislation that would help people seeking abortions and other citizens affected by anti-choice and other discriminatory policies.

PLI last year published its “Playbook for Abortion Rights” guide for its network of more than 13,000 policymakers and advocates. PLI President Gloria Totten said the release of the guide was part of a “new strategic initiative to promote a bold, proactive reproductive rights and justice strategy at the state and local levels.”

“The best way to fight back is with a strong, sustained effort to drive proactive policies—and the public debate about such policies—in states, cities, and counties,” Totten said.

Both chambers of the Michigan legislature have a GOP majority.

Arrambide told Rewire that Michigan lawmakers could introduce more pro-choice bills this year. Those bills, she said, could help make up more than 120 proactive abortion rights bills that could be introduced in at least 30 states and seven localities in 2017.

Some of the PLI-suggested bills include a “Keep Bosses Out of the Bedroom Act,” which would keep employers from taking an adverse action against an employee based on their reproductive health decisions.

PLI noted that in recent years employers have taken adverse action against workers for their reproductive health-care decisions. In 2010, for example, a Catholic diocese in Wisconsin threatened employees with termination for using a state-mandated contraception benefit.

Michigan Republican lawmakers last month introduced bills that would defund providers that provide abortion care—even though Michigan already prohibits using state taxpayer funds for abortion care—impose medically unnecessary regulations on abortion clinics, and help funnel money to an anti-choice Choose Life Michigan fund through a license plate program.

State Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township) in January introduced a bill that would ban profiting from fetal tissue sales, which is already illegal nationwide.