Michigan Republicans have seized on a bogus story about abandoned fetal remains to push through a bill that callously disregards the feelings of women who have to abort wanted pregnancies for medical reasons.
RH Reality Check explains that here was never any proof to support an anti-abortion activist’s claim of finding fetal remains in an abortion clinic’s dumpster, but the anti-abortion lobby has nevertheless used the story as an excuse to propose an unprecedented bill about the disposal of fetuses.
Laura Berman of the Detroit News reports that as a result of the bill, one of the first questions hospitals may ask women who have just miscarried or had still births is “what do you want to do with the fetus?”:
In the wake of an Eaton County abortion clinic’s Dumpster scandal, the state Senate passed a package of bills Oct. 20 to ensure the “dignified disposition of fetal remains.” But if the bills would treat fetuses with newfound dignity, they don’t extend the same compassion to those especially vulnerable women who have lost pregnancies in clinics and hospitals. [...]
“I think some women will be devastated,” says Joanne Mulhere, who counsels women undergoing loss of pregnancies at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where about 175 women lose pregnancies through miscarriage or stillbirth annually. Patients would be handed Kleenex, as well as a form to sign, requesting the remains be cremated, buried or interred. [...]
It’s a “choice” that effectively reframes the way women are supposed to think about early pregnancy, imposing new opportunities for grief where none might have existed.
State Sen. Rebekah Warren (D) of Ann Arbor notes that “This would be the first time in Michigan law that a fetus, or fetal remains, would be classified as a dead body at 10 weeks. That’s the most stunning piece of it.”
The bill is likely to pass, either this year or next. Anti-choicers may relish the idea of tormenting women who have had abortions with graphic reminders of their “crime,” but they have no problem traumatizing couples who have just lost pregnancies in the process.
Berman sums it up: “Unfortunately, Michigan legislators have crafted a bill that’s more sensitive to the needs of tissue that fits in a tablespoon than to grown women who, at vulnerable moments, will face a new form to sign, an unsought, disturbing decision to make.”