Sophomore Marie Reimers described her experience as a student organizer for Planned Parenthood as an empowering one.
The Saginaw native took part in eight protests for women’s reproductive rights last summer, including a protest in Lansing over legislation critics thought of as limiting a right to an abortion that drew more than 2,000 people.
“It was amazing to see everyone as passionate and angry as I was about these issues,” Reimers said. “So many lives are affected by the issues of abortion and reproductive justice for women. It was great to see I wasn’t alone in thinking what these laws present is morally wrong.”
In December, Gov. Rick Snyder signed an anti-abortion bill that places strict regulations on abortion clinics and requires women to be screened for coercion before they are provided abortions.
The law was watered down from the original bill it was presented as last June, but some pro-choice advocates think the law does too much to limit abortion rights.
Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work Amanda Garrison said Snyder misled the public after signing the bill.
“The level of misogyny in the politics of the state is overwhelming, and perhaps the most disturbing part of this ongoing violence-through-policy disguised with the language of ‘care,’ Garrison said via email. “Snyder asserts that his decisions were based on a concern for women … when what I read is that (regulating) abortion clinics as ‘hospital operating rooms’ renders the clinic responsible to the same guidelines that a massive hospital – with its plethora of resources – is accountable to.”
Central Michigan University’s American Civil Liberties Union Co-Chair Tyler Hitchcock said he feels Snyder has pushed Michigan back to a pre-Roe v. Wade state.
“If I were a woman, and I wanted an abortion, I feel that it is my decision and choice of what to do,” the Midland sophomore said. “And this whole thing about coercion provides a big problem, too. Men are not screened before vasectomies; it’s a huge double standard.”
Hitchcock said Roe v. Wade was a giant leap toward securing women’s rights and independence and feels the new law threatens to undo all that.
“With the way our science and health care is these days, abortions can be done safely,” he said. “Regardless if abortions do become banned, if a woman wants one, she will get one, and a medically fit way should be allowed.”
Garrison said the Roe v. Wade decision was made so that women couldn’t be subjected to the judgments of physicians.
“Ironically, the second part of this bill signed by Snyder erodes that as well,” Garrison said. “If the state can require the physician to gauge ‘coercion’ from the objective position of a ‘physician,’ … what is to stop the subjective assumptions of ‘coercion’ from a moral standpoint of any given doctor? The bill signed by Snyder requires a judgment from the professional over the body of the pregnant person.”
Many students and faculty are highly affected and passionate toward these matters of both pro-choice and pro-life.
Reimers said there are groups on campus that discuss the political and moral aspects of these bills–new and old alike, and she encourages students to get involved.
“We have a nearly all-male legislature and a male governor. We, as women, are seen as having the ability to make our own choices, but we really can’t. We know our bodies, and we know what we need to do,” Reimers said. “When things like this happen, it’s scary and disappointing, but I’m positive that we are headed toward a positive future for women’s rights. Just seeing what we changed from summer to when the bill was signed shows how powerful we can be.”