Michigan’s Proposed Second-Trimester Abortion Ban Advances

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Michigan’s Proposed Second-Trimester Abortion Ban Advances

Jenn Stanley

The bills target what anti-choice groups call “dismemberment abortions,” which are actually dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedures. D and E is a common procedure in which a physician dilates a woman’s cervix and removes the fetus using forceps, clamps, or other instruments.

Strict anti-choice bills that would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure are advancing in Michigan’s GOP-led House.

Rep. Laura Cox (R-Livonia), who was elected during the 2014 midterm elections, introduced HB 4833 and HB 4834 last summer.

The bills target what anti-choice groups call “dismemberment abortions,” which are actually dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedures. D and E is a common procedure in which a physician dilates a woman’s cervix and removes the fetus using forceps, clamps, or other instruments. It is also used in nearly all second-trimester abortions in the United States.

D and E procedures are often recommended if a woman wishes to end a pregnancy when the fetus has been diagnosed with severe medical problems. Last year, they accounted for about 8 percent of Michigan’s 27,629 abortions performed, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

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After a hearing Tuesday morning, the Republican-led Michigan House Criminal Justice Committee voted 5 to 3 to advance the bills banning D and E to the House floor; all of the representatives who voted to do so were men. If signed into law, performing a D and E abortion in Michigan would be a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

“Unlike many extremist politicians, we rely upon the sound medical advice of trained professionals when it comes to the health of the women we serve,” Lori Carpentier, CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said in a statement. “The language of these bills is unconstitutionally broad and medically nonsensical. The bills will put women in danger by preventing doctors from offering the best, safest care based upon their medical training and professional judgment.”

Ed Rivet, legislative director at Michigan Right to Life, spoke at the hearing, invoking the widely discredited, surreptitiously recorded, highly edited videos leaked by an anti-choice front group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which has worked closely with Republican legislators to smear Planned Parenthood. No state or federal investigation of Planned Parenthood has turned up any wrongdoing in fetal tissue research and donation.

“This is in fact the procedure that facilitates the harvesting of fetal organs,” Rivet said, hands and voice shaking as he demonstrated with a model fetus and forceps his understanding of the D and E procedure.

Six other states have tried to pass similar legislation this year, but only Kansas and Oklahoma have succeeded. Those GOP-led bans are on hold following court rulings concluding that they would likely place too big of a burden on women seeking abortions.