Michigans low rating in womens reproductive health is not surprising.
The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, an organization that conducts an annual study on womens reproductive health, gave Michigan an F rating and ranked the state 45th in the nation. Washington ranked first in the study and Louisiana ranked 50th.
Michigan has consistently fallen in the rankings during the past 10 years because of declines in the number of abortion clinics in the state and increased pro-life legislation. The state has 36 abortion clinics in 11 of its 83 counties, but there were 70 clinics in the state in 1992. The number of abortions estimated in Michigan is based on those in clinics, not physicians offices.
The Michigan Legislature passed six pro-life measures in 2000 and many more before that, including a parental consent law, a ban on Medicaid coverage for abortions and a 24-hour waiting period.
Considering the amount of pro-life legislation passed in the state in the past few years, the low ranking in womens reproductive health is not at all surprising.
Michigans conservative Legislature has worked to limit abortion rights in the state for years, and residents should not expect that to change any time soon. If the states ranking continued to decline through eight years of a pro-choice president, it is not likely to improve in the next four years or more under pro-life President Bush.
Bush has already passed measures limiting family planning funding and nominated a radically pro-life attorney general in John Ashcroft. Womens reproductive rights in Michigan and the country can only expect to see more limitations in the coming years.
Michigans numbers cant be looked at in an entirely negative light, however. The decline in the number of clinics may not be so much because of pro-life tendencies, but because many abortions are being performed in doctors offices. But it should be noted the number of abortions in Michigan dropped from 49,098 in 1987 to 26,207 in 1999.
It is a shame the Michigan Legislature is working to limit the rights of women. Those opposed to abortion have made it a morality issue, and it is unfortunate that morality, a subjective entity, is getting in the way of the rights of the people.
The low number of abortion clinics in the state has made abortions hard to get for many women. The northernmost clinic in Michigan is in Saginaw, forcing many women in the northern parts of the state to drive hours to get the procedure.
The decision to get an abortion is a very personal one. It is not the job of the Legislature to hinder that decision in any way. The decision to get an abortion is hard enough without the limitations imposed on women in Michigan.
Limiting safe options for abortions will force some women to explore other paths. This could pose more health risks to women than the safe and legal abortions Michigan lawmakers are working to limit.
It is unfortunate the Michigan Legislature continues to pass laws limiting abortion in the state, and because of these limitations, it is not surprising the state ranks so low in womens reproductive health.