Michigan’s GOP Continues Flurry of Anti-Choice Measures

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Michigan’s GOP Continues Flurry of Anti-Choice Measures

Jenn Stanley

The state's Republican-controlled legislature introduced two new anti-choice bills a week after the Michigan house had a hearing on a bill to criminalize D and E procedures.

Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature introduced two new anti-choice bills last week, one requiring the licensing of many abortion clinics as outpatient surgical centers and the other prohibiting the state from contracting health providers that offer abortion care. 

State Sen. Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan) introduced SB 573, which would require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to license abortion clinics as freestanding outpatient surgical facilities. A similar bill failed to pass in Maine in May. Emmons’ proposal would apply to clinics that perform at least 120 surgical abortions annually.

Twenty-two states require facilities providing abortion services to meet standards intended for ambulatory surgical centers.

Emmons is also a co-sponsor on last week’s other anti-choice bill, proposed by state Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton). That bill, SB 575, would prohibit the state from contracting health providers that offer abortion care. In other words, the measure would cut state funding to health-care facilities that also perform abortions.

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Michigan does not give state tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, however it does give money from federal grants.

The GOP bill asks that the state:

Refrain from allocating state funds to an entity that considers an elective abortion to be a part of the continuum of health care for purposes of family planning or comprehensive reproductive health services.

The Guttmacher Institute already considers Michigan hostile to reproductive rights, which means it has four or more abortion restrictions in place. In the past few years, the three states that border Michigan—Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin—have become extremely hostile to abortion, per Guttmacher, meaning those states passed six or more abortion restrictions.

Michigan lawmakers in 2015 have proposed 23 bills related to abortion, 17 of which were anti-choice. While a few have made it to hearings, none have passed.

Emmons and Colbeck have histories sponsoring anti-choice legislation, including a bill approved by the senate earlier this year that allowed for a fundraising license plate recognizing the Choose Life Michigan Fund. Money collected from the plates can be distributed to eligible nonprofit organizations that promote alternatives to abortion, such as crisis pregnancy centers, which deploy varying tactics to keep women from seeking abortion care.

A week before Emmons and Colbeck proposed their bills in the state senate, the house had a hearing on HB 4833 and 4834 that would make performing dilation and evacuation abortions a criminal offense. The main bill would amend a 2011 law criminalizing so-called partial-birth abortions.

Kansas this year became the first state to criminalize such a procedure, followed by Oklahoma, but the bans are on hold after court rulings concluding that they would likely prove too big an obstacle for women seeking abortions.

D and E is a common second-trimester abortion procedure that is often recommended for women wishing to end a pregnancy when the fetus has been diagnosed with severe medical problems. Of the 27,629 abortions reported in the state last year, about 8 percent of them were D and E procedure, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

“These bills create a dangerous environment for patients by preventing doctors from having every option available when providing care,” Matthew Allswede, a Lansing doctor representing the state section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the Associated Press. “It is extremely dangerous for legislators to presume that they are better equipped than experienced physicians to judge what treatment approach is appropriate for a patient and under what circumstances.”