Remember how I told you, late last week, that Michigan legislators were considering a series of bills in the House that would effectively end abortion access, and seriously limit women’s reproductive options across the state? Well, it looks as though, despite the efforts of Planned Parenthood, and others, the first, and largest, of the three bills has been jammed through by Republicans. (The other two are expected to be voted upon shortly.) The following comes by way of Think Progress.
The Michigan House has passed HB 5711, the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion bill that combines some of the worst attacks on women’s access to abortion care into one bill. The massive 45-page, Republican-backed legislation limits when a woman could have an abortion and puts a greater, unnecessary burden on abortion providers.
Opponents have loudly protested against the measure that has been jammed through the legislature — it was introduced on May 31 and a committee approved it last week — and Democratic lawmakers spoke out against it before the House passed the bill 70-39. “This bill is not about protecting women’s health,” said state Rep. Kate Segal (D).
Here’s what you should know about these far-reaching anti-abortion bills:
1) Bans Abortions After 20 Weeks, Even For Rape And Incest Victims: A woman would not be able to have an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation based on the widely disputed idea that a fetus can feel pain after that point. The only exception would be if a woman’s life was in danger.
2) Transforms Doctors Into Detectives: The Republican-backed legislation would make it a crime for anyone to coerce a woman into having an abortion. Doctors will have to give their patients a questionnaire to inform them of the illegality of coercion and determine if the woman had been coerced or is the victim of domestic abuse before the abortion procedure.
3) Limits Access For Rural Women: Under the omnibus bill, doctors would have to be physically present to perform a medical abortion, thus preventing a doctor from administering abortion-inducing medication by consulting via telephone or internet. This would especially hurt rural women, who may have to travel hours to meet in-person with a specialist.
4) Requires Doctors To Purchase Costly Malpractice Insurance: If HB 5711 goes into effect, then doctors would be required to carry $1 million in liability insurance if they perform five or more abortions each month or have been subject to two more more civil suits in the past seven years, among other requirements. But the qualifications are so vague that almost all doctors who perform abortions could be required to carry the additional liability insurance at a potential cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
5) Regulates Clinics Out Of Existence: HB 5711 would create new regulations so that any clinic that provides six or more abortions in a month or one which advertises abortion services would have to be licensed as a “freestanding surgical outpatient facility.” That means that even if a clinic does not offer surgical abortions, it would be required to have a full surgical suite…
So, now it looks as though the fight is set to move on to the Senate, where the legislation will likely be taken up in September. As Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly 2-to-1, I’m not optimistic, but perhaps there’s a chance that they can be persuaded to do the right thing, if we mobilize now, and stay engaged over the summer.