abortion

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In this Week in Michigan Politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss a proposal to block abortions from being covered in basic health plans, how Warren Buffett is backing millions of dollars in an initiative to help small businesses in Detroit, and look to next week when Judge Steven Rhodes will decide if Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy.

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Federal judge will announce if Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy next week

"A judge says he'll announce Dec. 3 whether Detroit is eligible to get rid of its debts in bankruptcy court," the Associated Press reports

Michigan and federal government investigate fungal meningitis outbreak

"Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is joining forces with federal authorities to investigate last year’s fungal meningitis outbreak. Michigan was hardest-hit by the nationwide outbreak that’s linked to tainted steroids from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Enough signatures collected to propose a ban on abortion coverage

"Michigan abortion foes have collected enough signatures to put a proposal before lawmakers to ban abortion coverage from health plans unless a separate policy is bought," the Associated Press reports.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

24 boxes crammed with 315,477 petition signatures.

That's what it might take to effect a major change in the way insurance covers abortion in Michigan.

Pro-life activists have turned in those signatures in their effort to force insurance companies and health plans to offer abortion coverage only if a customer buys a separate rider, and a woman would have to buy that rider before knowing whether she needs an abortion.

She would not be allowed to buy that coverage after getting pregnant, even in the case of rape or incest.

Kathleen Gray from the Detroit Free Press joined us to talk about this “legislative initiative.”

IaIvanova / Creative Commons

A federal appeals court ruled against a southeastern Michigan natural foods company that claims it should be exempt from the contraception provision in the federal health care law. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion today.

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide workers with insurance that covers contraception.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Abortion opponents have turned in more than 315,000 petition signatures calling on the Legislature to place new restrictions on health coverage.

The new law would require consumers to buy separate coverage for abortions.

Abortion opponents say they want to make sure that abortion coverage is not automatic when people buy insurance under the new federal healthcare law. The petition-initiated law would require consumers to buy a separate rider for abortion coverage.

The Huffington Post

Michigan Right to Life is circulating a petition to prohibit health insurance companies from covering abortions. Individuals who want abortion coverage would have to buy an optional rider in addition to their insurance policy.

If the petition receives enough signatures and the Legislature approves the measure, it would become law without the governor's approval. If the Legislature doesn't act on the measure, it would be voted on by the public.

Pam Sherstad with Michigan Right to Life says only those who want abortion coverage should pay for it.

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Petition to ban abortion coverage allowed to move forward

A state elections board has given the go-ahead to a petition drive by anti-abortion groups to prohibit insurance companies from covering abortion in basic health policies.  

“To get this measure before the Legislature, Right to Life needs to gather more than a quarter-million signatures. If it’s approved by the Legislature, the law could not be vetoed. If lawmakers don’t approve the initiative, it would go to the ballot for voter approval,” Rick Pluta reports.  

Michigan communities face population loss in 2012

The Detroit Free Press reports that roughly two out of three Michigan communities lost residents during 2011-2012, according to the US Census. But the state’s overall population grew slightly and most declines were modest in size. Michigan’s total population increased by more than 6,500 people between 2011-2012.

Wolf hunt referendum will be on ballot

A referendum on a state law allowing a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula will be on the ballot in November 2014.

“Petitions to let voters decide whether a law allowing a wolf hunt should remain on the books were certified yesterday by a state elections panel...But the Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder also approved a second law. It circumvents the referendum and still allows the state to establish wolf seasons.” Rick Pluta reports.

endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com

The Board of State Canvassers met today in Lansing. They took up two controversial issues: one involving abortion coverage and another about wolf hunting in Michigan.

The Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Rick Pluta, was at the meeting earlier today. He joined us in the studio to talk about these two issues.

Listen to the full interview above.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

A state elections board has given the go-ahead to a petition drive that would enact a restriction on abortions.

The initiative would ban abortion coverage as a part of basic insurance policies.

Instead, customers and businesses that offer employee coverage would have to buy a separate rider for insurance coverage.

The effort seeks to enact a requirement that was vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder.

If the drive succeeds, the Legislature could adopt the law without the threat of a veto.

American Freedom Law Center

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - A man who uses his car to spread an anti-abortion message is suing the city of Ann Arbor and its police chief over what he says is the violation of his free-speech rights.

Paul Dobrowolski displays signs with phrases such as "Abortion hurts women" in the window of a vehicle he parks outside a Planned Parenthood facility.

The federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday.

The suit says Dobrowolski was ticketed twice last year for violating a portion of the city code that prohibits parking a vehicle on a street for the purpose of displaying advertising.

One of Dobrowolski's signs gives the name, phone number and address of a facility that provides free ultrasounds.

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje says he doesn't comment on pending litigation, but "the city enforces the law."

Neeta Lind / Flickr

Two laws took effect this week in Michigan, one concerning abortion and the other concerning marijuana. The state Legislature passed the controversial bills in a frenzy of activity last December.

Let's start with the new bill concerning abortion. 

Chad Livingood is the Lansing reporter for the Detroit News and Chris Gautz is  the Capitol correspondent for Crain's Detroit Business. 

They outlined the new law for us, which regulates abortion clinics that provide surgical abortions. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan abortion clinics will need a state license and must check to make sure women aren't being pressured into getting an abortion under a new law.

Other regulations taking effect Sunday make clearer the proper disposal of fetal remains.

The state estimates 16 more abortion providers will need to be licensed as freestanding outpatient surgical facilities because they perform at least 120 abortions a year.

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Blue Cross changes approved without abortion provision

"It looks unlikely state House Republicans will try to add controversial abortion language to a proposed overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Lawmakers passed the bill out of committee yesterday without a provision that would limit insurers’ ability to cover elective abortions," Jake Neher reports.

Bill would end some Michigan alcohol regulations

"Legislation in the Michigan Senate would overhaul regulation of the state's alcohol industry. The bill would eliminate outdated regulations and increase the size of the industry. One change would make it harder to prosecute those who sell alcohol to someone who is intoxicated," the Associated Press reports.

Governor Snyder says he won't decide on an EM for Detroit for at least another week

"Governor Snyder says he won’t decide whether to put an emergency manager in Detroit for 'at least another week.' But he warned Thursday that the city’s financial situation is 'dire.'", Sarah Cwiek reports.

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This week in review Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss Detroit’s State of the City address, lawmakers conversation about abortions and Viagra coverage in Senate health plans, and the removal of Pure Michigan right to work ads.

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Pure Michigan right to work ad cut

"The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has suspended use of the “Pure Michigan” brand to market the state’s new right-to-work status. Democrats and unions complained after the agency used the brand in a Wall Street Journal ad that mentioned the right-to-work law," Rick Pluta reports.

Whitmer asks to cut Viagra out of Senate medical plan

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer has challenged State Senator Rick Jones to drop Viagra from the Senate's medical plan. This comes after a vote this week to exclude abortion coverage from the Senate's medical plan. Jones says he'd be happy to do so.

Detroiters protest against cut to gang squad

Dozens of Detroiters came out Thursday night to protest Mayor Dave Bing's proposal to get rid of the city's gang squad. Mayor Bing wants to cut the program in order to put more officers on regular beat patrol.

Steve Rhodes / Flickr

House Bill 4187 was introduced by state Rep. Joel Johnson (R-Clare).

It would require that a woman have a "diagnostic ultrasound examination of the fetus at least two hours before an abortion is performed."

Today, State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) announced the House wouldn't take it up.

More from MPRN's Jake Neher:

Bolger says his chamber will not approve any bills requiring women to have a transvaginal ultrasound when seeking an abortion.

He says a bill in the state House goes too far. Ari Adler is a spokesperson for House Speaker Bolger.

"The speaker is very interested in making sure that women have the latest technology available to them for their support, but he is not in support of requiring a transvaginal ultrasound in order for a woman to have an abortion," said Adler.

House Democratic leader Tim Greimel applauded the move. He called the procedure invasive, unnecessary, and unwarranted.

sentate.michigan.gov/gop

State lawmakers have re-introduced legislation that would limit the ability of insurance companies to cover abortions.

The measure would only allow insurers to cover elective abortions through optional rider plans.

Republican state Senator Mark Jansen says many people do not want that kind of coverage automatically included in their plans.

“If I’m an employee, and this is the big issue nationally, why should I be paying for something that seems to be something that many of us morally disagree with?”

The measure was included in legislation last year that sought to overhaul Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Governor Rick Snyder vetoed that bill because he thought the abortion language went too far. He said it’s not the state’s job to decide what kinds of plans insurance companies can offer.

The Blue Cross legislation has also been reintroduced without the abortion language. It passed unanimously in the state Senate last week.

Blue Cross Blue Shield would undergo major changes under proposed legislation.
Wikipedia

The state Senate Thursday unanimously passed an overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The measure was unexpectedly vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder last month because it included some controversial abortion language. Lawmakers recently reintroduced the legislation without the abortion measure.    

State Senator Joe Hune said he expects it to take longer for the bills to get through the House.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Among the flood of bills passed in the waning days of 2012 came House Bill 5711.

The bill was signed by Gov. Snyder last month and became law (Public Act 499 of 2012).

Dr. Lisa Hope Harris Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Michigan spoke with Cyndy about the new law and its implications for the state.

“There are four components to the new law. The first is that health centers that provide 120 or more surgical abortions per year and advertise those abortions be licensed as free-standing surgical centers. The law does include waivers… Clinics will very likely be able to comply with this regulation. That means that women are unlikely to be directly affected by the component of the new law.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has been busy working his way through the 282 bills passed by the Legislature during the final weeks of the 2012 session.

The governor's office said he signed 53 bills on Friday and vetoed four. He has acted on a total of 186 bills and 95 are pending review.

Official portrait

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law abortion regulations supporters say protect women but opponents denounce as a backdoor assault on the right to terminate pregnancy.  Critics contend the new regulations on clinics could force some of them to shut down.

The Republican governor who has said he opposes abortion signed the contentious measures Friday that passed the Legislature this month.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week Weekend Edition host Rina Miller and Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the lame duck session in Lansing.

While right to work was passed despite massive protests, Lessenberry says there is only one way it can be repealed.

“People could petition with the legislature to repeal the law and if they don’t then it goes on the ballot,” he says.

The question is, is if anyone will actually do it.

And a package of abortion bills were sent to Governor Snyder’s desk.

“The package passed is mainly regulating abortion clinics, putting them under more scrutiny, making sure that people coming in for a procedure weren’t coerced,” Lessenberry says.

And finally, a new emergency manager law also moved forward.

“This gives emergency managers more power than the old emergency financial managers have. But it also sort of gives cities a choice--whether they want an emergency manger, whether they want to move to bankruptcy or have a consent agreement,” Lessenberry says.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio Network

Governor Rick Snyder will have the final say on a measure to add restrictions for abortion providers.

State lawmakers approved the legislation Thursday.         

Among other things, it requires physicians to screen women to make sure they’re not being forced or coerced to have an abortion.      

Opponents of the bill like state Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) say it’s designed to restrict access to abortions.

“I guess I can hope that the governor will veto it and make a stance to say, ‘this isn’t what I want to do, we need to work on jobs, we need to work on quality education for our kids, protect our natural resources,’ things like that,” Brown said.

Lawmakers did not take up a measure that would let doctors, healthcare facilities, and insurers deny care based on moral objections.

That bill could be reintroduced in the new legislative session that begins next month.

Legislature stays up late, passes flood of lame-duck bills

Dec 14, 2012
user Steve & Christine from USA / Wikipedia

More than a few Michigan legislators are probably feeling a little fuzzy today, asking themselves the all-important question, “What happened last night?”

That’s because lawmakers were up until 4:30 a.m. this morning as part of an all-night legislative binge that saw the passage of a bundle of bills.

And as MLive reports, not everyone is happy about the way it happened:

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Many bills made moves yesterday at the state capitol. Here are some of the bills that are now headed to Governor Rick Snyder's desk:

Abortion bills

Governor Rick Snyder will have the final say on a measure to add restrictions for abortion providers. State lawmakers approved the legislation yesterday. Among other things, it requires physicians to screen women to make sure they’re not being forced or coerced to have an abortion.

Bill to phase out personal property tax

State lawmakers have approved a plan to phase out Michigan’s tax on industrial and business equipment. Local governments rely heavily on the tax to provide services. The bill is headed to Governor Snyder's desk. The measure would also make up for 80-percent of funding for non-essential services.

Emergency manager bill

The Michigan Legislature has sent Governor Rick Snyder a new local government emergency manager bill -- five weeks after voters rejected their last effort. The new law will give local governments in financial trouble some options. They can negotiate an agreement with the state, accept an emergency manager, or go a federal bankruptcy court.

Don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the current lame duck session of the legislature is trying to do about as much as lawmakers normally do in about ten years. Now I am sure that’s an exaggeration, but it doesn’t feel like one.

Consider this. In a single day, the governor and the Republican majority pushed through the most momentous labor legislation in years, taking the once inconceivable step of outlawing the union shop and making Michigan a so-called right to work state.

They aren’t stopping there, however: The governor is going to have to make a decision on four bills, or parts of bills aimed at making it harder for women to get abortions in Michigan.

For the last two years, lots of people have believed that Rick Snyder may be a pro-business fiscal conservative, but that he was really a moderate on social issues. Well, now we are about to find out.

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Senate passes bills to add restrictions on abortions

The state Senate has passed legislation that would add restrictions for abortion providers. The Detroit News reports,

"The bills would require physicians to determine if a woman was coerced into having an abortion; clinics be licensed and fetuses be disposed of in the same way as 'other dead bodies.'"

Senate likely to vote on emergency manager law today

The state Senate is likely to vote today on a replacement of the emergency manager law that was repealed in the November election. According to the Detroit Free Press,

"The governor's administration says the bill is designed to address shortcomings in the much-maligned Public Act 4, which voters repealed last month, by giving local officials in financially troubled cities and school district more input in decisions -- addressing one of the major sticking points in PA 4."

Senate rejects repeal of handgun checking

The Michigan Senate has rejected a National Rifle Association-backed proposal to let people buy handguns without undergoing criminal background checks. The state House earlier approved a bill to repeal the requirement to undergo a check before buying a handgun. But the Senate voted 27-11 yesterday for a substitute bill that requires background checks by a federally licensed dealer or the police. The bill retains the state's hand gun permitting system.

Steve Rhodes / Flickr

The Michigan Senate has passed legislation that would add restrictions for abortion providers.

Any facility that provides abortions would have to meet new licensing and insurance requirements. The legislation also mandates a screening process to make sure women aren’t forced to have an abortion.        

Renee Chelian is with Northland Family Planning Clinics. She said the bills are a backhanded attempt to limit access to abortions.

“This is a way to make abortions more expensive by causing clinics to do all kinds of construction that’s not necessary. If you raise the cost of abortion, you make it inaccessible to women, and that’s really what they’re whole point is,” Chelian said.       

Supporters of the measure say it’s meant to protect women. Republican state Senator Rick Jones is one of the most outspoken advocates of the measures.

“This bill provides that abortion clinics will be safe, they will be inspected, they will be licensed. This is so important to the safety of women in the state of Michigan,” Jones said.

The state House passed the legislation in June. It will have to approve changes made by the Senate.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

These are some wild days in Michigan.

With thousands of protestors at the capitol, Right to Work has become the 1200 lb gorilla in Lansing: it makes the 600 lb gorillas look small.

In other words, with time still left in this lame duck session,  Michiganders could wind up with a whole slew of controversial new laws next year.

Here’s a short list:

Kevin H. / flickr

Right-to-work may have been the star of the legislative circus that took place at the Capitol yesterday, but it was just one of many passed by the House and Senate.

Here is a recap of some other bills that you might have missed:

The Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act

The bill, passed by the state Senate yesterday, would allow health care providers, facilities, or insurers to deny care base on religious, moral, or ethical objections.

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