What Michigan women want

For better or for worse, Michigan has also found itself in the national spotlight over abortion restrictions. In 2012, the term “Vaginagate” was coined after the state House Republican leadership prohibited Democratic Rep. Lisa Brown from speaking on the House floor. She contends it was because she used the word “vagina” in debate over abortion legislation. Republicans said the reprimand came because she had failed to maintain the decorum of the House, not for her use of the word.

Last year, pro-choice Democrats derided an initiative that would require women to buy what they called “rape insurance,” a rider in order to have abortion procedures covered by their health insurance plans, even in cases of rape and incest. The initiative was passed by the legislature and did not have to be approved by Gov. Snyder. It takes effect March 14.

Bobbi Walton, president of Michigan NOW, said such legislative efforts aren’t helpful in persuading women to live and work in the state.

“If you have policies that are more restrictive, more inhibiting on your personal life, it is not going to be attractive to anybody I can think of,” she said. “If I was a young professional, if I was a woman who was looking to relocate for a good job or because of schools or any other reason, that would certainly enter into my calculation.”

But Pamela Sherstad, director of public information for Right to Life of Michigan, said she’s seen no evidence that women are turning away from Michigan. She noted that the abortion rider legislation was passed through citizen petitions.

As a collector of signatures, she said, “I came in contact with a lot of people who were very supportive and with women who were very supportive of having the option to be able to choose not to cover abortion as part of health care insurance.”

Terry Barclay, president of Inforum, the state’s leading professional women’s organization, said it’s hard to generalize about women. “Anything that speaks of going backward on any women’s health issue would be perceived as not positive, but I think it’s very dangerous to characterize women as a monolithic group.” Members of her organization have strong opinions on both sides of the abortion issue, she said.

Barclay said that more concerning was the idea that women would be prevented from speaking during the legislative debate.

“It certainly doesn’t portray the state in a positive vein as a state that promotes discourse and allows the fact that honest people can disagree,” she said.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:31pm
Given that women only got the right to vote in 1919; that they only got the right to divorce an abusive husband in the late 30's and 40's; that they only got the right to become doctors, lawyers, etc. in the past 20 or 30 years and given women still make less than men in the same job, isn't it ironic that almost all the people writing these laws are men? Hmmmm. On another thought, travel to other developed countries as wealthy, prosperous and healthy as we are and ask yourself: "Why is there no a peep about abortion in any of these countries?"
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 8:31pm
George, I wonder whether you have any concern with accuracy or you simply spout what you feel will support you viewpoint. “women still make less than men in the same job” I wonder where you get that from. The Census Bureau makes the point that their data does not adjust for differences in experience, skill, occupation, education, hours worked (including over time), length of time in the job or with an employer, etc. If you are basing your statement on the Census data or regurgitating what others pronounce as fact then you are building you position on a foundation of sand. This makes me question your other points, there were no women doctors and lawyers prior to the 80s or 90s (it appears that the first woman to practice before the US Supreme Court was in 1893), that divorce didn’t happen before the 1920s, that woman didn’t vote before 1919 (I read somewhere it that they were voting in Wyoming 1869). You seem to epitomize the political babble we hear in Michigan today, decide on your position and say whatever comes to mind that might support that view, don’t make any effort to concern yourself with accuracy. I make mistakes, I have been wrong in things I credit as being accurate, I acknowledge my errors when I discover them (when others point them out) and when I can’t verify my claim, I am responsible for what I say. It is uncomfortable to accept, but I feel others deserve those acknowledgements. If I am wrong with these remarks, correct me and I will make my apology in this section of Bridge.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:42pm
Treating women as second class citizens not worthy of talking out loud or making health decisions for themselves - PURE Michigan. Now, back in my binder.
David Forsmark
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 4:03pm
This article is a joke, there is reliance on cliches, but little reporting. Women do not make less then men "for the same job." The wage gap is entirely made up by what fields men and women respectively go into. Lisa Brown did not just mention the word vagina in her House rant. She directly addressed the Speaker and said, "Mr. Speaker, I am flattered by your interest in my vagina, but no means no." EWWWW. And by the way, this word this ditz was searching for was uterus. But that wouldn't have gotten her on MSNBC. Yes, though, the gag order the next day was dumb. Then there are the historical facts mentioned above... sloppy sloppy sloppy. This is supposed to be the nonpartisan magazine. That means you don't buy into either sides cliches and talking points... supposedly. But alas.
David Forsmark
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 4:04pm
And if Bobbie is earning less, it might be because her bad grammar held her back. You are supposed to say, "If I were..."
Thu, 03/13/2014 - 7:42am
This article is so full of crap it is almost laughable. The statistics tell us that educated, working women do not have abortions.