Michigan Human Heartbeat Protection Act (HB 4241)
This law was last updated on Jan 9, 2017
HB 4241 would amend Michigan’s informed consent law (MCL 333.17015) to include a fetal heartbeat ban.
The bill would require that an abortion provider determine whether evidence of a fetal heartbeat can be detected using “standard medical practice” prior to performing an abortion, except when a medical emergency exists. If an abortion is performed without determining whether a fetal heartbeat can be detected, the abortion provider would be required to note in the woman’s medical record the specific nature of the medical emergency that existed. The bill would not require the use of an intravaginal diagnostic procedure.
If a fetal heartbeat is detected, the abortion provider would be required to offer the pregnant woman the option of hearing or seeing the evidence of the fetal heartbeat. If a fetal heartbeat is not detected, the physician would be required to do the following, as applicable: (1) inform the pregnant woman of the probability of maintaining the pregnancy versus experiencing a miscarriage; (2) advise the pregnant woman of the physician’s recommendation to immediately perform an additional diagnostic procedure that may detect a fetal heartbeat or to delay until a later date performing a diagnostic procedure to determine if the fetus is physically developing; (3) advise the pregnant woman that a procedure to remove a fetus that has died is not considered an abortion and inform her of the risks and benefits of different means of terminating the pregnancy.
In reference to a similar bill that was introduced in 2014, Shelli Weisberg, the legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said that the delay is intended to put off the procedure until a heartbeat can be found: “The catch there is to force the woman to continue to delay her decision, and of course if there’s a heartbeat once she comes back to her doctor she won’t be able to get the abortion she wanted.” (Source.)
The bill also would have amended the definition of abortion to exclude “any medical treatment of a woman who is experiencing a miscarriage or has been diagnosed with an extrauterine pregnancy.”
A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy—two weeks after a woman’s first missed period—and well before many women even realize that they are pregnant.
Similar to HB 5643, which failed to pass in 2014.