Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Detroit Free Press editorial seeks to re-write history of paper's opposition to common sense regulations of abortion clinics

In the latest of the Detroit Free Press's never ending editorials opposed to prolife legislation, editorial writer Nancy Kaffer attempts to re-write her paper's position on legislation which passed the Michigan legislature and was signed by Governor Snyder in December of 2012.

H.B. 5711, also known as the Prolife Bus, included a number of provisions to regulate abortion clinics.  These regulations included making sure clinics were inspected, requiring the bodies of aborted children to be disposed of in a humane manner, outlawing webcam abortions and requiring women be screened to prevent coercive abortions.

In yesterday's editorial, Nancy Kaffer describes this legislation as if it's not that bad from her pro-abortion perspective and much better than prolife legislation the Texas legislature is currently considering.

So what happened here? A coalition of women's rights and women's health advocates, including Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, spent a lot of time and effort working to soften the impact of the bills proposed in Michigan. The post-20-week ban was removed, along with provisions that would have required doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals. Clinics must comply with new regulations, but in some situations can obtain a waiver of compliance. Advocates say it's too early to gauge the full impact on the provision of service in the state.

This description of the legislation is much different than how the Free Press editorial board described it back when it passed in December.  Back then, the Free Press viewed the legislation as a direct attack on women.

Here's how they described it in a December 13, 2012 editorial ominously entitled, "Women next on lame-duck Legislature's hit list":

  • "clearly intended to thin the ranks of abortion providers by increasing costs and increasing burdensome regulations on those who run clinics that provide abortions."
  • Would erect "new barriers to Michigan women who choose to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion."
  • "meant to punish women"
  • If passed with another bill, H.B. 5711 would make Michigan "among the most regressive states in the nation for women's health"

After Governor Snyder signed the Prolife Bus and vetoed legislation to opt Michigan out of abortion insurance coverage, the Free Press wrote another editorial entitled, "Governor's 'balance' now tilts against women's rights" on December 30, 2012.

The focus of this editorial was to attack Governor Snyder for signing H.B. 5711.  Here's a sample of the language used to describe H.B. 5711:

HB5711's other key provision would require providers who advertise abortion services and perform more than 120 procedures a year to meet new licensing requirements. Snyder said he's pretty sure the new rules will impact only "10 to 20" providers across the state -- which doesn't sound so bad, until you remember that there are only 32 abortion clinics in the whole state......

In summary, Snyder seems to have charged into this breach armed with more animus than information. His own rationale notwithstanding, the requirements he signed into law Friday are aimed at reducing the number of abortion providers in the state and expanding the arsenal of tactics available to intimidate women seeking an abortion.

Now that the Prolife Bus has passed and all the frivolous claims of abortion advocates haven't come to pass, the Free Press editorial board is apparently ready to downplay their over-the-top rhetoric from just months ago without ever admitting how incorrect they were.