A bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers of the state Legislature decided last month that partial-birth abortions should be banned in most circumstances in the state of Michigan — a decision we don’t really quibble with, especially given the particularly heinous nature of the procedure in question. However, lawmakers did a true disservice to Michigan women by not providing for an exemption in cases of rape or incest.
Legislators from both sides of the aisle agreed last month that the vast majority of partial-birth abortions — generally a procedure performed relatively late in a woman’s pregnancy — have no place in the state of Michigan. We tend to agree — to a point.
Under two identical proposals in the state House and Senate, performing the procedure would be considered a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine. Doctors performing partial-birth abortions to save the life of the mother whose life is endangered by physical order, illness, or injury would not be subject to those penalties.
Partial-birth abortion would be defined as “an abortion in which the physician, an individual acting under the delegatory authority of the physician, or any other individual performing the abortion deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a headfirst presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the naval is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus, and performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus.”
We are pleased that lawmakers thought it prudent to carve out an exemption for the procedure if the life or wellness of an expecting mother is somehow threatened by the pregnancy.
Yet, even given the grotesque nature of the procedure, what is also grotesque is not providing a woman who was the victim of rape or incest the same exemption. Especially considering the hideousness of such crimes against women — or anyone, for that matter — it’s reasonable to think that some women would be too ashamed or traumatized to come forward and admit that they were pregnant with the child of their rapist, or their father, or brother, or other member of their family within the first trimester.
How such an exemption failed to garner the support of a majority in either chamber in the state Legislature is beyond us.