Friday, June 21, 2024

City officials and groups join the national conversation of the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade

June 7, 2022
<p>Planned Parenthood held a pro-choice rally at the Michigan Capitol on May 3, 2022, following news of the Supreme Court&#x27;s intention to overturn Roe v. Wade.</p>

Planned Parenthood held a pro-choice rally at the Michigan Capitol on May 3, 2022, following news of the Supreme Court's intention to overturn Roe v. Wade.

With one of the largest human rights rulings in Supreme Court history hanging in the balance, the world seems to be focused on the repercussions of the court decisions on Roe v. Wade, the ruling keeping abortion legal federally.

Currently in Michigan, there was a recent injunction set in place to push back on the enforcement of the 1931 law that bans abortion immediately if Roe v. Wade was overturned. The current state of Michigan will seemingly turn into a battleground for reproductive rights this summer.

City officials and political groups around East Lansing and Michigan are sharing their beliefs on what the political and socioeconomic landscape could look like if Roe v. Wade was overturned.

City Council of East Lansing

Mayor Pro Tem of East Lansing, Jessy Gregg believes that reproductive rights would impact the young population of East Lansing heavily.

“I think one of the things that I always watch for when I’m trying to be part of a good government is laws that impact one group of people more than another group of people," Gregg said.

While her powers cover a limited range of city matters, she thinks the first step is to create a strong and honest health education in the public schools of East Lansing, providing a curriculum that takes the stigma out of abortion and sex-related health care.

Gregg explained that abortion should be held at the same medical standard as a yearly pap smear, creating a baseline for all reproductive healthcare. She believes that Michigan government is working to create this standard.

“I…think that Gretchen is a really strong advocate and I am glad that we have her in the Governor’s Office during this time because I do think that she gets it in terms of the necessity,” Gregg said.

She thinks that the injunction of the 1931 law was the first step to getting it abolished, citing it as a danger to healthcare, like many old laws in the books across states, even if not enforced, that hold deep restrictions on topics such as same-sex relationships and African Americans owning property.

“They are not enforced because it is recognized that that’s not where we are historically, but the fact that they are still on the books, I think we need to clean up all of that stuff including anything that’s related to abortion or women’s healthcare because having it there is a danger," Gregg said. "You can choose not to enforce it, but if it’s still on the books, there’s always the possibility that someone could choose to enforce it.”

To Gregg, Roe v. Wade should not be considered a moral dilemma in the government and the courts.

“Government should not be talking about people’s morals…we...have to remove all stigma and moral judgment from it before we can make sure it’s really preserved and legislated the way that it needs to be,” Gregg said.

Lisa Babcock, a member of the city council in East Lansing, explained that women's rights were recognized belatedly, but have been in the continuum of rights guaranteed by the Constitution, keeping the government upholding these rights that were not first considered.

"History shows the Constitution was created to enshrine the rights of individuals, balanced with the needs of a larger community," Babcock said. "The great legal decisions over time have recognized that those rights are shared by women, religious minorities, racial minorities and others who weren't in the room when the Constitution or Bill of Rights were drafted."

Babcock explained that while abortions would be not protected under the law, they will not end in everyday life for many women.

"Ending legal abortion won't end abortion. Our mothers and grandmothers certainly knew about it before Roe v Wade was decided... Overturning Roe returns us to a two-class system: those who can obtain a safe and legal abortion, and those who cannot," Babcock said.

Pro life representative

Christen Pollo, the Executive Director of Protect Life MI, works with young people every day to spread a more pro-life message in local areas, as well as connecting women with pregnancy resources such as counseling, housing, scholarships, parenting classes, and supplies. The Roe v. Wade leak is what the group was looking for to support their efforts.

“We are cautiously optimistic," Pollo said. "The leak is not a final decision but we hope that Roe is overturned. It's a great step forward towards human rights for all human beings, and... real support for women in need, being able to offer them the support and resources they need in a way that doesn’t perpetuate violence against human beings, which is what abortion does.”

Referring to herself as a feminist and human rights advocate, Pollo wants to do everything to support women with unplanned pregnancies, believing that the government has a responsibility to uphold pro-life legislation to solve problems without the use of violence, claiming that civilized societies cannot use abortion as a solution.

While Pollo believes there are many in the middle of the issue, she believes that many misunderstand what the abortion process does to both the fetus and the mother, explaining that through polling with her group, many Michiganders overwhelmingly reject abortion legality through all nine months of a pregnancy term. She believes that the pro-life position has become more popular among Michiganders.

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“Our position is consistent because we say that human rights are for all human beings," Pollo said. "It’s not dependent on your age or your level of development or whether you’re inside or outside of the womb. It's based on the fact that you are a human being, so I think our position is more consistent than (pro-choicers) is.”

Pollo will continue to be the spokesperson against Planned Parenthood throughout this fight for Roe, working against what she believes is extremism in Planned Parenthood's Reproductive Freedom for All amendment, which fights for no government control in all pregnancy matters, Pollo claiming that it runs on "anything goes." Pollo explained that she will continue to be at the front lines of this nationwide conversation for the state of Michigan.

From the perspective of healthcare providers

Ashlea Phenicie is the Interim Director of Communications at Planned Parenthood MI, spearheading the lawsuits against the 1931 abortion ban as well as advocating for the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment which she explains focuses more on protecting women from birth miscarriage criminalization, continuing the right to abortion, and advocating for use of birth control.

“We hope in the end we get a ruling that permanently blocks the ban under Michigan state constitution and state civil rights laws,” Phenicie said.

Phenicie said that the organization is seeing an increase in support from people, getting involved with Planned Parenthood and the ballot measure.

"That’s where people power is really going to matter because direct democracy is how we can protect abortion access,” Phenicie said.

Phenicie has seen a clear majority to keep abortion legal with an upwards of 60% of Michiganders wanting to keep Roe v. Wade, hopeful and confident to see their amendment on the ballot, knowing that this is something the Michigan voters care about.

“If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v Wade [it] will be the first time in history that Americans have lost a right from a…ruling," Phenicie said. "I think we are going to see some unprecedented organizing in response to this unprecedented attack on our rights."

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail said that she and the health department firmly stand that reproductive health care is a priority and the loss of that is at the detriment to the public. She cited the Turnaway Study, which studied 1000 women over the course of a decade, proving that not having access to abortion leads to a significant increase in pregnancy-related deaths, as well as negative economic, health, social, and psychological effects.

“Denying (women) perpetuate poverty, makes them less likely to pursue higher education, and puts their health at risk," Vail said.

Vail explained that women will still seek abortions after the ruling, facing enormous risks with the procedures being more unsafe and life-threatening, forcing women and their families to make an even more difficult decision. However, Vail said that these risks are disproportionate to communities facing this hardship.

“One of our core values…in public health in general is health equity. When you look at inequities in health, anti-abortion rulings and laws are disproportionately going to impact historically marginalized people and further exacerbate the health and racial inequities that we in public health have worked so hard to overcome,” Vail said.

Vail said that by not providing comprehensive healthcare, the government only layers on these risks of both maternal and infant mortality. She said that there has been a 36.8 percent increase in maternal mortality in the past few years, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade only looking to increase this number.

“From a public health perspective, it is sliding us back to decades ago and basically exacerbating a lot of the things we’ve made significant progress on when it comes to looking at maternal mortality and infant mortality," Vail said. "Legal abortion is safe, it’s effective, and it’s an essential component of healthcare. National academies of science have a comprehensive report and clinical evidence shows that legal abortions are safe and effective.”

It seems the national conversation has lingered its way into our own backyard, exemplifying how Michiganders feel through their own public officials and leading groups.


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