U.S. and World Politics

Abortion is Healthcare and Healthcare Is a Human Right

Testimony to Senate Health Policy Committee in support of reproductive rights bills1

Statement By Michigan Coalition for Reproductive Liberation

Last year MCRL organized two demonstrations inside the chamber of the Michigan House of Representatives. Both times the session was temporarily halted. Our demand was to repeal the 1931 abortion ban.

At the time, a lot of people saw this as an unrealistic demand.

In fact, most people didn’t know that there was an abortion ban on the books in Michigan. People didn’t really believe that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, and that the ban could go into effect after all these years.

Now, a year later, we’re in a much different position. Thanks to those who initiated Prop 3, organized to get it passed, and voted for it, repealing the 1931 abortion ban is legally necessary. Repealing the ban will be both an important victory and the logical next step.

But to be honest, repealing the ban is low-hanging fruit. We want so much more.

Our new position is, first of all, defined by Democrats having a trifecta for the first time in 40 years, and a budget surplus of over $10 billion.

We demand ambitious action on not only abortion rights, but also around reproductive freedom as a whole, which, is more than just access to abortion.

On February 12, the New York Times published an article titled, “Childbirth Is Deadlier for Black Families Even When They’re Rich, Expansive Study Finds.”

Among the findings of the study:

Rich and poor mothers were equally likely to have high-risk pregnancies, but the poor mothers were three times as likely to die—even within the same hospitals.

Another major finding: money protects white mothers and babies, but it doesn’t protect Black ones.

For every 100,000 births, 173 of the babies born to the richest white mothers die before their first birthday, but 437 babies born to the richest Black mothers die.

Even Serena Williams—one of the most famous and wealthy women in the world—was not listened to.

The day after Williams gave birth by Cesarean section, she felt out of breath. With a history of pulmonary embolisms, she alerted a nurse.

Williams told the nurse that she needed a CT scan with contrast and a blood thinner right away. The nurse thought her pain medicine might be making her confused.

When Serena insisted, a doctor performed an ultrasound of her legs.

When they didn’t find anything, they finally sent her for a CT and found that she was right—several clots had formed in her lungs. They finally treated her, but the delay meant that Williams needed a month and a half of bed rest and ruptured her C-section with coughing from the blood clots.

What this shows is the structural failure of our healthcare system.

It fails poor people, and it fails people of color in all income brackets.

To quote Tiffany L. Green, an economist focused on public health and obstetrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The data are quite clear that this isn’t about biology. This is about the environments where we live, where we work, where we play, where we sleep.”

What are the policy implications of this?

Yes, repeal the 1931 ban.

But also guarantee that abortion is not singled out, that it is a normal part of healthcare.

Repeal the law that allows private insurers to not cover abortion.

In fact, require that private insurers cover it.

Have the state pay for abortions for those on Medicaid and for people who are low-income but don’t qualify for Medicaid.

Eliminate the 24-hour waiting period. It’s medically unnecessary and designed to be a burden.

Eliminate Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws.

Abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a human right.

1 SB 0002, SB 0037, SB 0038, and SB 0039