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Regardless of your personal stance, the statistics bear out that one in three women in the United States of childbearing age currently have had, or will have, an abortion. These are mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, lovers, aunts, grandmothers, friends, and even, ourselves – women opting to terminate a pregnancy for any myriad of reasons. Since 1973, with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, it has been a legal decision to make. Yet since that momentous ruling was made, it has been under attack by pro-life factions both nationally and regionally.
Michigan has been a battleground state, especially since the mid-1990s, with repeated efforts by state legislators to curtail access to abortion, asserting they are protecting the infant in the womb and working to make it safer for women getting the procedures. On the other side have been lawmakers and women seeking to have their voices heard above the din, some working with Planned Parenthood, to make sure a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy is her right, and not the government's.
The battle between pro-choice and pro-life factions over the last 43 years has been ongoing since at least Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that determined, by a 7-2 vote, that the right to privacy under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution extended to a women's decision to terminate a pregnancy. However, the court ruled, that must be balanced against the state's two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting women's health, and protecting the potentiality of human life. Those are the two tenets which pro-life activists have focused on in their efforts to overturn Roe, and stop abortions from happening across the country.
On both the national and state level, the Roe ruling set up political battles which continue to this day, with 12 Michigan state legislative bills currently on Right to Life's pending state legislation agenda, from House Bill 4241, the Heartbeat Awareness Act, which would mandate a woman to hear a fetal heartbeat before having an abortion; to House Bill 4146, Late-Term Abortion Hospital Requirement, requiring all abortions after 19 weeks gestation to be performed in a hospital with a neonatal unit; and Senate Bill 287 and House Bill 5065, the Prenatally Diagnosed Conditions Act, which would create a database of "medically accurate information about prenatally diagnosed conditions, links to support groups, and information about intervention services," to prevent women with fetuses with genetic abnormalities, including fatal abnormalities, from aborting. As Right to Life stated in a fact sheet, "This bill is an attempt to help avoid 'search and destroy' abortions," noting that women carrying babies with Downs Syndrome, in particular, have an increased rate of termination....continued on page 2