January 22, 1973 abortion became legal in the United States with the passing of Roe v. Wade. In the years following this decision states have passed a number of laws to put limitations on how a woman receives this procedure, meaning if, when, and under what circumstances it can be performed. Members of anti-choice groups have implemented attacks and created policies to restrict abortions, claiming that these limitations are necessary for the well-being of the woman and child. Ibis Reproductive Health and The Center for Reproductive Rights carefully evaluated both sides, to further understand if the anti-abortion claims translate into the state’s overall health of its women and children.
As we enter the year of 2015, within a revolutionary age of women’s activism, it is clear that Michigan is significantly lacking on their advocacy for the well-being of its mothers and children. Presented at a recent event hosted by MI Lead, a study shows that Michigan’s performance in regards to the health and socio-economic state of women and children is shockingly below the United States’ overall average. Sadly, based on evidence from various studies this lack of support for women seeking an abortion can have detrimental effects on their health, emotional, and financial situations.
Ranked with the 4th lowest score nationwide, infant and maternal mortality rates are incredibly high, in addition to the amount of women and children living in poverty. Furthermore, some may argue that this is directly related to the strong restrictions on abortion that exist in the state of Michigan, seeing how it stands as the 18th most restrictive in the U.S. (tied with Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin). Restrictions often include mandatory waiting periods, the request of a separate rider for abortion coverage in health insurance, and the guidelines of medications given. Essentially the anti-choice policy makers have proven to be very successful in passing their proposals, stripping women of natural rights to their bodies, and a positive, healthy livelihood.
In essence, the health and socio-economic state of Michigan women is alarmingly low. Michigan stands as 40th in overall health, 21 deaths for every 100,000 live births, and responsible for 16% of women without health care. These are just a few statistics that Michigan cannot declare with pride. Additionally, when looking at Michigan’s children, while 95% have health insurance, the infant and teen mortality rates exist well above the nation’s average. Also according to the study, “one out of four Michigan children and one out of five women live in poverty” (Burns, Dennis, Douglas-Durham, 2014). Further providing support that state restrictions and failure to implement protection of women and children is most definitely present.
While Michigan lawmakers have worked to create supportive policies, especially in the areas of children’s health, education, and safety, they are failing to support pregnant women. For instance, with little access to Medicaid, family leave, disability insurance, and job protection, pregnant women are often left unprotected. Simply, the lack of protective policies is only contributing to the failing well-being of women and children.
Overall, this analysis presents indicators that clearly show while lawmakers aim to improve the well-being of women, pregnancies, and children, there is significant barriers in reaching this goal. In order to strive towards a better future, Michigan officials should focus on improving the lives of women and children, first by respecting their choices, rather than restricting needed health care services such as abortion.
Written by: Myranda Rees, Oakland - Macomb NOW Intern
Burns B, Dennis A, Douglas-Durham E. Evaluating priorities: Measuring women's and children's health and well-being against abortion restrictions in the the states. State brief: Michigan. Ibis Reproductive Health; December 2014.