Rochester Hills Republican representative wants to “modernize” 91-year-old law banning abortion, wonders about identifying fetus as a human
LANSING – Michigan’s 91-year-old law doesn’t have strict enough penalties according to one out-of-step Republican lawmaker who is now seeking to make abortion a felony in the archaic law.
The state’s ban on abortion already outlaws the procedure without exceptions for rape or incest and it criminalizes nurses and doctors who offer reproductive care, taking women back to a dangerous time.
During a candidate forum this summer, GOP state Rep. Mark Tisdel of Rochester Hills, said Michigan’s 1931 ban on abortion needs to be updated, in other words making it even worse than it already is.
“My biggest problem with the law is that it refers to abortion as manslaughter … the legal definition of manslaughter is killing a human being without malice aforethought,” Tisdel said. “Now, if in fact the fetus is a human being, there’s certainly malice aforethought involved in that so I don’t think that manslaughter is the right felony to put on that.
“So, there are several questions here: At what point does a fetus become a human being? If it is defined legally as a human being then terminating the life of a human being, except in self-defense, is murder. And if you want to go into murder, then you have to decide to what degree.”
Tisdel made his comments during a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters Oakland Area for candidates running for the 55th House District, which covers part of Oakland County. Patricia Bernard of Rochester Hills is the Democrat in that race on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“Republicans like Mark Tisdel are actively working to drag the state back 91 years to a dark and dangerous time when abortion was a crime, even in cases of rape and incest,” said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. “Mark Tisdel’s long, stream-of-conscious wandering makes it clear that he is not on the side of women, doctors and health care professionals who understand that abortion is health care. Meanwhile, Democrats will continue to fight for reproductive rights so women in Michigan don’t have to face a future with fewer personal freedoms.”
The full transcript of Tisdel’s comments from the June 22 event are below:
“I am not a fan of the 1931 law. It needs to be modernized and brought up to date. My biggest problem with the law is that it refers to abortion as manslaughter, the legal definition … and I might actually slaughter this a little myself … the legal definition of manslaughter is killing a human being without malice aforethought.
“Now, if in fact the fetus is a human being, there’s certainly malice aforethought involved in that so I don’t think that manslaughter is the right felony to put on that and so there are several questions here. At what point does a fetus become a human being? If it is defined legally as a human being then terminating the life of a human being, except in self-defense, is murder. And if you want to go into murder, then you have to decide to what degree.
“So there are a lot of complexities in this that have to be looked at rather than simply relying upon the 1931 law and there are four or five different layers of issues that you have to look at if in fact the 1973 – I was a junior in high school when the Roe v. Wade decision was made – if that is in fact going to be overturned.
“I did not suggest murder should be the penalty. What I did say is that the current 1931 law has in it ‘manslaughter’ and that refers to the death of a human being. If it is legally decided that the fetus is a human being … this is not a community discussion, this is a legal discussion. If the court overturns Roe v. Wade, this will be a legal discussion and it will be a call for legislative action. And it’s not a bumper sticker issue. It’s terrifically complex and the laws that you put in place to replace Roe v Wade to deal with the beginning of life can also be used at the end of life and people move from human being to human at the end of life and we withhold food, water, medical assistance, oxygen in some instances as a person moves from a human being to a human and so … through that arch, my belief is what you can apply at the beginning, you also have to look at how applies to the end and it’s a complex issue.”