Michigan is headed for disaster, and the people who could stop it are heading this state for a disaster.
The United States Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion. If Roe is overturned, as a draft court ruling leaked last week indicates, a still-enforced 1931 Michigan law will ban abortion in almost all circumstances. Administering an abortion, and possibly obtaining one, would become a four-year felony.
Thousands of Michigan women will be forced into childbearing, with disastrous consequences. Some will undergo illegal, possibly dangerous procedures. Others will travel out of state. Some women will be unable to terminate pregnancies that have gone horribly wrong, as the only exemption from the 1931 Act is the subjective standard of preserving the mother’s life.
This urgent threat to the bodily autonomy of women and girls, to our status as full citizens, should be enough to motivate the GOP-dominated legislature to repeal the 1931 ban and codify our reproductive rights and citizenship in state law.
But it’s not.
So let’s talk about Michigan’s economy and who should be held responsible if the worst were to happen.
There are approximately 2.2 million women of childbearing age in Michigan. Over 29,000 women had abortions here in 2020. Here’s the thing about abortion: A woman never contemplates exercising that choice, until she has to. And here’s the other thing about abortion: Access to abortion has never been just a matter of procedure itself. It’s about whether our bodies belong to us.
“It’s not what the decision is, it’s who makes the decision,” said US Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat. “Will it be politicians, right-wing Supreme Court justices, or women making our own choices about our toughest health care decisions?
A new obstacle for recruiters
Michigan has already found plenty of ways to tell young, highly skilled workers that our state is not for them. The failure of our elected leaders to design a working transit system in Southeast Michigan or extend civil rights protections to LGBT Michiganders telegraphs their indifference to the things these workers care about.
Criminalizing abortion would add a new and powerful deterrent. Businesses and legislators must understand that a state hostile to women – 51% of the population – is not a state that can succeed.
“The more Michigan sends a signal that we don’t respect women and women’s ability to make their own health care decisions, that’s very negative in terms of recruiting,” Stabenow said. “Young women or older women, this is unfortunately a signal that our state is ready to go back to the 1930s in how women are viewed. To send this message that over half of our population is disrespected and not trusted to make their own decisions, that their privacy issues don’t matter, that’s a damning message to send to women.”
After:What is Michigan’s position on abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court
After:Whitmer: If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, I will fight for abortion rights in Michigan.
That’s not the kind of change of course Michigan needs, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.
“We will make Michigan a hotbed of opportunity for people and businesses by protecting the rights of Michiganders, not taking them away,” she said.
There is plenty of evidence to show that bad policies matter.
Our inability to maintain our infrastructure, support our school systems, invest in the necessities and amenities that the most prosperous states and metropolitan areas have cultivated – everything of this has harmed our condition.
Michigan has the second-slowest rate of population growth in the nation, a trend that will cost our state another congressional seat in 2022. The meager growth we’ve had is being driven by immigration and jeopardized by rhetoric and federal anti-immigrant policy.
Michigan lost Amazon’s second headquarters and a US military high-tech center; each cited the quality of life or the challenges of attracting a skilled and educated workforce as reasons not to come here.
These are the real consequences of policy decisions, said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter.
“It’s hard enough to sell Michigan over the past few years, given the signals we’ve sent through our public policies of intolerance and lack of freedoms,” Coulter said. “We are not growing as a region as we need to. Pursuing a culture in Southeast Michigan where freedoms are not championed and protected will absolutely make it harder to attract the young talent we need to succeed. ”
Coulter speaks from experience.
“I happen to be part of a class of people whose rights have been debated and judged by the Supreme Court,” said Coulter, who is gay. “Other people like me, whose privacy is at risk, will decide where to live and what to support, based on these kinds of policies.”
Workers most in demand have options, Glengariff Group pollster Richard Czuba told me.
“You can’t be pro-business if you’re constantly telling people not to come to this state and giving them signals and markers as to why they shouldn’t be here,” Czuba said. “Look at the example of LGBT Michiganders. There’s been an exodus for decades. Walk up and down Clark Street in Chicago, and it looks like an expatriate community of LGBT Michiganders.”
Chasing the Mississippi
Abortion access in most circumstances is supported by 67% of Michiganders, pollster Czuba said; 77% of Michigan residents think such decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor, and that the government should not play a role.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic lawmakers have pushed to repeal the 1931 law, but the Republican leadership of the Legislative Assembly will not budge. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, welcomes the prospect of overriding the will of the people and criminalizing abortion, telling Michigan Radio last winter that the 1931 law is “great “.
The governor and Planned Parenthood of Michigan are pursuing separate lawsuits, asking the Michigan courts to declare the 1931 law a violation of the state constitution.
“We have enough problems to get people to move to Michigan,” said demographer and former Pleasant Ridge mayor Kurt Metzger. “Whether it’s a covert postponement, an open postponement, or the Elliott-Larsen issues…Not just on our grades, but we tend to resemble Mississippi in some of our social attitudes.”
After:If Roe v. Wade is bowled over, could Michigan residents travel to Canada for abortions?
Metzger, who has tracked the state’s demographic trends for decades, said every business group in this state should advocate with the legislature to protect reproductive rights.
“If nothing happens and Michigan talks about ‘How can we start getting people, and we have all these unfilled jobs, and we need educated people’ and we say ‘We’re going to limit the rights of women’…it’s a very good business strategy,” he said.
US Senator Gary Peters said he was fighting for the US Senate to codify Roe’s protections, a charge so far thwarted by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, all two Democrats.
“At a time when we are working to further kick-start our economic recovery, we need to put in place the right conditions to continue to be a great place to live, work and raise a family,” said Peters, whose first wife suffered a medically necessary hospitalization. abortion after their wanted pregnancy ended in tragedy. “I fear the quashing of Roe v. Wade will undermine that mission.”
If abortion becomes illegal here, Michigan won’t shut up shop overnight, and the Republicans currently in power know it. Instead, it will be a slow drip, the kind we’ve known for decades, as the world’s best and brightest simply choose to go elsewhere, and those left struggle to live with what’s left. .