Michigan Republicans geared up for Roe v. Wade to be overturned by proposing a bill that would hit abortion providers with 10-year prison sentences. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling very soon striking down the nearly 50-year-old precedent affirming the right to abortion, kicking the battle to states like Michigan, which has a pre-Roe abortion ban still on the books. A judge recently issued a temporary injunction against that old law, blocking enforcement.
State Rep. Steve Carra, the leader of the push to criminalize abortion, tied his bill to the possibility that the courts would follow through and overturn the decades-old ban. “Although the Legislature is doing its best to defend (the existing abortion ban), it will most likely result in a defeat for the pro-life movement, and it is time to begin exploring other avenues to protect the sanctity of human life,” Carra said.
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His answer is not just a 10-year sentence for any doctor performing an abortion in violation of whatever laws Michigan ends up with, but a 20-year sentence for anyone manufacturing, selling, or distributing abortion medications.
The bill would allow abortions in cases of “imminent harm arising from the pregnancy by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.” But mental health reasons are explicitly ruled out: “Medical treatment may not form the basis for an exception to prosecution under this section if it is based on a claim or diagnosis that the pregnant woman will engage in conduct intended to result in her own death or some other form of self-harm.” So the Republican answer to a mental health crisis that makes it dangerous for a person to remain pregnant is basically, “Go ahead and kill yourself, then.”
Carra’s bill explicitly does not attach criminal penalties to the person seeking an abortion, allows Plan B and other emergency contraception “before the time when a pregnancy could be determined through conventional medical testing,” and allows misoprostol for the “treatment of a miscarriage.” But as we’ve seen in Texas, the fact that miscarriage care is allowed does not mean that doctors and pharmacists will necessarily feel safe or comfortable providing it.
It’s not clear whether Michigan Republican leadership will push this bill through to passage—where it would be vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer—but the fact that there’s a bill threatening abortion providers with a decade in prison and it has multiple co-sponsors in Michigan is newsworthy either way. It’s not just the likes of Texas and Oklahoma: Purple-state Republicans are trying this stuff, too, not just banning but criminalizing abortion and saying that the mental health of pregnant people is irrelevant.
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