Michigan's economy is in crisis. Its infrastructure is tottering. For the second straight year, state lawmakers haven't found the time or the will to deal with Gov. Rick Snyder's proposal to fix crumbling roads. But when the issue is new restrictions on abortion, lawmakers move with blinding speed.
Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a mammoth bill that would, among other things, impose new rules and fees on abortion providers and clinics, require some physicians to carry more liability insurance, and compel doctors to investigate whether a patient was "coerced" into seeking an abortion.
When the bill passed, emotions ran high. Its sponsor, Republican state Rep. Bruce Rendon, said it was about "protecting the rights of women and the unborn." But many women lawmakers differed. "This is not about protecting women's health," but about controlling them, House Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal said.
Her colleague, Detroit Democrat Rashida Tlaib, suggested that "women across Michigan boycott men" sexually "until these bills stop moving out of the House." Two other women lawmakers were barred from speaking on the House floor after they protested the bill.
The Senate recessed for the summer without taking up the measure, but worse may be about to follow. The House is waiting to take up two similar bills; one would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, without an exception even to save the life of the mother. At the last minute, House Republican leaders held the bills back because of questions about whether they are unconstitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court has defined a limited right to abortion. Unless justices reverse Roe vs. Wade, or a constitutional amendment that does that is passed, the ruling is the law of the land. Attempting to reverse it by the back door is likely to be an expensive waste of time.
Not everything in the House bill is bad. For example, it includes sensible safeguards for the disposal of fetal remains.
But in a state that is struggling to right its economy, with roads that need repair and a central city on the point of collapse, Michigan lawmakers should pay more attention to what they need to do, rather than try to regulate medical procedures that are above their authority and beyond their competence.