(Lansing)—The Michigan House of Representatives today passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 70-39, legislation that will address documented abortion clinic abuses and put in place measures to protect the health and safety of women who follow the path of abortion.
“The primary purpose for this legislation is to create safeguards for women in Michigan and to remedy egregious abortion clinic abuses recently addressed by a Senate subcommittee hearing,” said Michigan Catholic Conference Policy Advocate Rebecca Mastee. “Democrats and Republicans who voted in support of this legislation are to be commended and applauded for standing up for what’s right and for recognizing the need for common sense measures to protect women.”
Among the more egregious facts that emerged from a March Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Licensing and Regulatory Affairs hearing was the fact that while 99 percent of the abortions in Michigan in 2010 were performed at abortion clinics, only four of those 32 clinics are actually licensed. Most are rarely or never inspected. Of those that have been inspected, most have been cited for noncompliance regarding surgical equipment sterilization, the failure to maintain a sterile environment and failure to perform sterile pre-operation hand-washing.
“Women who turn to abortion, the majority of whom are actually coerced into the procedure, deserve better than unsanitary facilities that do not meet basic minimum standards” Mastee said.
House Bill 5711, sponsored by State Representative Bruce Rendon (R-Lake City) is a compilation of pro-life legislation that has either been introduced or debated and passed by the House of Representatives and or the State Senate over the past 15 months. Legislation that would prohibit coerced abortions passed the House Health Policy Committee and the full House more than three months ago while legislation that would provide for the humane disposition of fetal remains passed the State Senate in late 2011. The coerced abortion legislation addresses the fact that a majority of women are coerced against their will into the procedure.
According to a fact sheet from the post-abortion hope and healing organization Elliot Institute, 64 percent of women who abort their child do so due to coercive forces, whether it comes from an abusive relationship, an employer that believes the loss of staff is not good for business, a school counselor, physician, or even a parent(s) who cannot accept the thought of an unwanted pregnancy, the report states. Nearly two-thirds of the members of the Michigan House of Representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, worked to pass legislation in March 2012 that prohibits coerced abortions.
According to Representative Gail Haines, chairwoman of the House Health Policy Committee, which passed House Bill 5711 13-5 last week, "An abortion is a serious surgery and it's very important that facilities performing abortions are properly licensed and insured. This legislation will enhance a woman's access to safe healthcare." Measures included in House Bill 5711 include:
Requiring abortionists with a history of medical licensure violations or history of multiple civil lawsuits for causing injury from abortions to carry a minimum amount of malpractice insurance or equivalent security,
Changing the standard for when an abortion facility must be licensed as an outpatient surgical facility, which would license 28 of the 32 abortion clinics that remain unlicensed,
Prescribing humane disposition of fetal remains from abortions and adjust protocols for handling miscarriages and stillbirths,
Providing materials and screening protocols to identify women who are being coerced into seeking an abortion, and require an anti-coercion sign to be posed in abortion clinics, and
Requiring FDA approved protocols for use of the “abortion pill” (RU-486) and prohibiting remote use of RU-486 through “webcam” consultation, a practice that the abortion industry introduced in Iowa in 2008.
“Frankly, holding clinics to minimum standards and working to protect the more than 60 percent of women who are coerced into having an abortion should not be controversial if the safety of women is of concern,” Mastee said. “Michigan Catholic Conference is grateful to members of the House of Representatives for passing this important legislation, and we look forward to addressing this legislation when it comes before the State Senate.”
Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.