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The Face of Criminalized Abortion in Michigan

By Dr. Michael Hertz

Now that the reality has begun to sink in that SCOTUS has relegated ½ Michigan’s population to second class citizenship, we should reflect on what the real-world outcomes will be as Michigan is potentially plunged into an era of criminalized abortion. We have been there before, as in 1972 when I began medical school.

In 1972 the “pill” was only 12 years old, and though the Catholic church railed against it, women adopted it in droves as they faced the unacceptable alternative of an unplanned pregnancy. But contraceptive failures occurred, and patients for whom pregnancy was unacceptable travelled to New York where abortion was safe and legal if they had means, or they found an unlicensed practitioner to terminate her pregnancy in Michigan. Many of those women were seriously injured in the process, or were scarred and permanently prevented from childbearing; many simply bled to death. A stark black and white 1964 police photograph of a dead white woman lying face down on a floor saturated with blood haunts me still, reminding me of what criminalized abortion means.

It is folly to believe that criminalizing abortion will make the need for it disappear, and those who believe that are deluded. The need for and practice of abortion is recorded in human history in societies all over the globe dating back thousands of years.

For nearly 50 years since Roe, Michigan abortion has been safe and legal. It has become rare that any woman dies from abortion complications. Whereas on average 80-90 Michigan women die from complications from pregnancy and childbirth annually, none die from abortion complications. Michigan’s pregnancy-related maternal mortality rate remains perilously high. Criminalizing abortion will sentence additional Michigan women to death by forcing them to bear children against their will. Once again, as in the 1800’s, pregnancy may be referred to as that “dreaded apparition,” and we will experience a needless public health disaster.

We can and must avert this decree, and vote to amend the Michigan Constitution this November to approve the Reproductive Freedom For All amendment. Only then will we protect the women we love.


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