Commentary

Stephanie Chang: Michigan must support the right to choose

September 22, 2021 6:38 am
abortion

About 500 people attended the Ann Arbor rally | Ken Coleman

When Texas passed the strictest abortion law in the nation by banning abortion after six weeks, creating an environment for witch hunts of anyone who may have helped someone access an abortion and not providing exceptions for rape or incest, many watched and reacted in horror, for a variety of reasons.

Ask people with irregular periods, for example, and they will tell you: At six weeks, you might not know if you missed your period because you’re pregnant or if it is just another late period. Ask folks who would not be alive today if they did not have an abortion at six, seven, or eight weeks — they will tell you they would make the same choice again. They might even tell you the children they currently have would not have been born if not for having made that hard choice previously.

Sen. Stephanie Chang

But that’s just it: Republicans in power are not asking those who would be most affected by abortion policies, and unfortunately, it’s not surprising. Reproductive rights have been under assault — predominately by Republican-controlled legislatures — for decades. We need leaders and allies to step up right now, and we know they can, as a survey by Pew Research Center in 2019 found a majority of Americans favor legal abortions and oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.

In Michigan, every legislative session in recent history has featured at least one bill seeking to limit or ban abortion, how it can be carried out, and by whom. Creative phrases and imagery are used to stoke fears and distrust of institutions and people who have been advising on abortions.

And, as a result of such politically convenient and socially detrimental theatrics, Michigan has measures, such as requiring a patient to receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage them from having an abortion and then requiring a waiting period of 24 hours before the procedure is provided. In addition, individuals are required to purchase additional health insurance to cover an abortion (that they may not even know they’ll have or need) and there are limitations on public funding for abortions.

Worst of all, Michigan has an antiquated law on the books from 1931 to prohibit abortion, which could go back into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned and if we do not act swiftly to protect the rights of those who can become pregnant to make their own health decisions — including whether to have an abortion. That’s why I’m proud to be part of a package of bills with Sens. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) and Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) to repeal this law.

There are many reasons a person may choose to have an abortion, but they and their doctor are the only people who should decide whether to do so — not the government. Banning safe, effective abortions is discriminatory and governmental overreach, and stands to enhance the gap between the privileged and less privileged in our communities. There are already significant gaps in health care and societal outcomes for people of color, low-income individuals, and those who live in very rural areas who may have to drive hours to receive such care.

Legislating what those who can become pregnant can or can’t do with their bodies is par for the course for most Republicans. But as elected officials, we must always remember to serve the people, and the people have been clear: They support the right to an abortion. So, it is time we all listen, and repeal the misogynistic, archaic law banning abortion.

Know this — people who can become pregnant are fed up and will be out in force at the ballot box in November 2022.

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Stephanie Chang
Stephanie Chang

State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) represents Michigan’s 1st Senate District in Wayne County that includes the cities of Detroit, Ecorse, Gibraltar, River Rouge, Riverview, Trenton, Woodhaven and Wyandotte, as well as the townships of Grosse Ile and part of Brownstown.

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