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Monday, June 11, 2012

Op/Ed-Are Our Legislators Reading the Bills Before They Vote On Them?

Disclaimer: The first article on this issue was pulled for editing purposes. The article below is about the same topic.

The Michigan House rushed through a public hearing on June 7, 2012 a package of  what has been deemed "Super Anti-Abortion Bills." Michigan House Bill's 5711, 5712, and 5713 are the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the country.

If passed these bills would prevent women from accessing safe abortions, even in the cases of rape, incest and if the mothers health is at risk. They would also prevent Doctors from prescribing tele-medication, would require each clinic to have a surgical room even if they do not offer surgical abortions.

Doctors would also have to screen women for coercion to make sure no one coerced her in to having an abortion.  The bills go even further and prevent women from receiving Plan B, also more commonly known as 'the morning after pill."

I decided to contact my representative's office to ask a few questions about this package of bills. I reside in the 63rd District which happens to be the district represented by Jase Bolger, Speaker of the Michigan House.

Upon calling the Speaker's office I was directed to a man by the name of Derek. I asked him what was the Speaker's interpretation of the Plan B pill?  I also explained that they way it was outlined in the bill it was lumped up and assumed to be a abortion pill which it clearly is not and that it is a inaccurate assertion of that pill's purpose.

Derek told me that he was not sure what I meant and that he was not familiar with that portion of the bill. I then explained that by them prohibiting the use and access to Plan B under the guise that it has something to do with abortion, directly contradicts what the FDA says the pill does and is used for and so by doing so, I felt this bill is implying that they FDA is lying. Derek again stated that he didn't know much about the bill and that he would have to read the bill over as he was unaware of that part in the bill.

I was shocked to a degree that this staff member, who was taking calls from constituents, was not aware of the contents these bills. I asked if the Speaker was aware that this was in there and if he planned on voting for a bill that he may not have full knowledge of its contents.

I also expressed my concern that it sacred me that this bill was up for a vote and that it appeared that the Speaker may be voting on a bill he lacks knowledge of the contents.

Upon expressing my concern of this, Derek then informed me that he did not know "when or if it is planned for a vote." I then told him that it is scheduled to be voted on tomorrow. He was not aware of this. He said that he would look in to that bill and get back with me.

I then asked about how HB 5711-5713 was not violating the 1992 Supreme Court Ruling, Planned Parenthood v. Casey  and the undue burden standard. I was told by Derek that he would have to know what the definition of 'undue burden' was. I then explained to him various clauses contained in the bill that if passed would create a undue burden in my opinion. I never received a response to that question.

Instead I was asked where I was calling from, which I told them the city and township where I live and I also explained that I was calling because I had previously sent a email which had gone unanswered. He offered to take my name and number down, which I provided- and call me back. As of the time of this publication, I have not yet received a response back.

What concerns me is not only this package of bills that is scheduled to be voted on, but the fact that based on what I was told, it appears that the Speaker's office staff, or at least the person I spoke with--is not familiar with the legislation, could not answer some very pointed questions and was not familiar with a landmark Supreme Court Ruling.

It made me question if this 60 page package of bills had even been thoroughly read and researched. The speed at which this legislation has been pushed through, the joke of a public hearing that they had and the incomplete minutes that were taken at the hearing also raised red flags for me. Based on all this, it appears this is just another special interest, model legislation being pushed through at lighting speed for personal and political purposes.

The 'coercion' screening outlined in these bills is a joke.  If you want to look for coercion look no further than Jase Bolger's campaign finance reports and his re-election war chest filled by special interests to the tune of almost $250,000.  

No matter what the reason for this bill is--one thing is certian. Women's rights are under attack. The clock is being rolled back 40 years to a time before Roe v. Wade. This generation is going to have to fight like hell if we want to regain our rights. I encourage those who oppose this legislation to join with others at the Michigan Capitol Building tomorrow, June 12th at 1pm.

Editor's Notation: ROJS Media supports constituents contacting Legislative officials about pending Legislation, as residents and/or potential voters' right to know as Michigan's citizens. The writer, in this Opinion/Editorial journal piece, decided to give an account of the conversation with an staffer in Michigan's Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall-63rd District) office.
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