abortion

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Three right-to-work bills approved

Three right-to-work bills moved forward at the state capitol Thursday. The bills would prohibit unions from collecting fees from nonunion workers. The Michigan House voted to approve right-to-work legislation (HB 4054) for private-sector workers. The Senate passed two right-to-work bills. A measure dealing with private-sector workers (SB 116) passed on a 22-16 vote Thursday after hours of impassioned debate. Moments after it passed, the Senate passed a bill (HB 4003) with similar provisions for government employees. Democrats walked out before the bill was approved on a 22-4 vote. To clarify where these bills came from, the Lansing State Journal reports,

According to legislative records, HB 4054 had been dormant since it was introduced in January 2011, until it was suddenly reported out of committee on Wednesday. SB 116 also had no action since February 2011 before it was brought forward Thursday. House Bill 4003, which the Senate also took up, had had no action for one year prior to Thursday. today.

In other lame duck news. . .

EMERGENCY MANAGER LAW GOES TO HOUSE

"A Michigan House panel has moved a replacement to the state’s Emergency Manager law to the House floor. Voters rejected Public Act Four last month. The replacement would give local governments and school districts more options. They could request an emergency manager. They could reach a consent agreement with the state. They could agree to mediation to construct a recovery plan. Or they could file for municipal bankruptcy," Jake Neher reports

ABORTION BILLS PASS IN SENATE

"The state Senate has passed a bill that bans insurance companies in Michigan from providing coverage for elective abortions. The Senate also approved another bill  to require clinics that do abortions to be licensed as outpatient surgical centers. Both bills now move to the House," Tracy Samilton reports

BILL TO DENY HEALTH COVERAGE FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS PASSES IN SENATE

"A bill in the state Legislature would let health care providers, facilities, or insurers deny service based on religious, moral or ethical objections. The state Senate passed the bill Thursday. The measure would not apply to emergency situations, and providers would have to let patients know where they can go for treatment. It now goes to the state House," Jake Neher reports.

mich.gov / Michigan Government

Some Michigan legislators are working to give pregnant women a tax break for their fetuses.

The plan is to allow a woman to claim a 12-week-old fetus as a dependent on their state income tax return.

From House Bills 5684 & 5685:

Yesterday, the chairman of the state Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing and quickly  pushed through what everyone is calling an anti-abortion bill, sending it on to the full Senate.

It was clear that this wasn’t meant to be a deliberative process. Legally, any committee has to give at least 18 hours notice before holding any hearing.

When the legislature wants public comment, they usually give several days notice. In this case, it was almost  exactly 18 hours. The committee chairman, Senator Rick Jones, pretty much admitted he was ramming this bill through.

Michigan Senate Republicans

The state Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would require clinics and doctor’s offices where abortions are performed to be licensed and inspected. Critics of the bill say its real purpose is to put abortion providers out of business.

Rick Jones chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“The purpose is to make sure that clinics are licensed and safe. Certainly, a state that licenses junkyards, tattoo parlors, and used car lots would want to license abortion clinics,” he said.

Michigan State Capitol Building
Nikopoley / Wikimedia Commons

Several rallies at the state Capitol were timed to coincide with the Legislature’s only session day this month.

The largest was a group of about 150 abortion rights advocates protesting a package of bills before the state Senate.

The bills call for strict regulations on abortion providers.

One of the speakers was Renee Chelian. She works for a group of family planning clinics in metro Detroit. Chelian says protests have slowed down the bills after they cleared the state House last month.

You couldn’t say yesterday was a slow news day. We learned that Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, would join Governor Rick Snyder today to announce the new bridge over the Detroit River.

The Michigan House of Representatives voted to slash the state income tax over the next six years, without, however, explaining how the state is expected to pay for the services it needs.

Here’s something that occurred to me yesterday, when the Michigan House of Representatives passed what is really an anti-abortion bill. Consider probably the two most controversial U.S. Supreme Court decisions in modern history.

Roe vs. Wade, which said that women have a constitutional right of privacy to abortion, and two more recent cases, District of Columbia vs. Heller and McDonald vs. Chicago, which established that individuals have a constitutional right to own and carry a gun.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Despite some public pressure, Grand Rapids City Commissioners declined to support a proposal that would restrict abortion coverage for city workers. A group turned in more than a thousand signatures in favor of the proposal last month.

Health insurance for Grand Rapids city workers does not cover any elective surgeries. So abortions are only covered when deemed “medically necessary”. The proposal would’ve defined that to mean only in cases of rape, incest and to protect the health of the mother.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

Protesters in pink shirts filled the lawn of the state Capitol and packed the gallery of the state House today.

They were protesting a group of anti-abortion bills to be voted on this week by the House. The legislation would outlaw terminating a pregnancy after 20 weeks. It would also require clinics to be inspected, and impose new restrictions on abortion providers.           

“Frankly, these bills terrify me,” said Susie Simons of East Lansing. I’m completely afraid to get pregnant if these bills pass because if anything happens to me past 20 weeks I either have to die or carry a dead baby. So, I’m really terrified for my safety and for so many other women.”

A group of about 20 abortion opponents also lined up on the other side of the walkway leading to the Capitol.

“I am a strong believer in life and I believe the baby’s rights should be protected and I really want these bills to go through because I think they are also helping women. They are protecting them at the same time as the baby, too,” said Jennah Sailor, a member of the University of Michigan chapter of Students for Life.

The measures would forbid terminating a pregnancy after 20 weeks, and would impose new restrictions on clinics and abortion providers. Abortion rights advocates say the measures would force some clinics that provide an array of services to women to shut down.

The measures are up for House votes as soon as tomorrow.

They are expected to pass since a substantial majority of state House members are endorsed by anti-abortion groups.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

State threatens to pull revenue if consent deal challenge continues

Detroit’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, is challenging the city's consent deal with the state of Michigan. State officials want the challenge to stop. The state Treasurer's Office sent the city a letter. From the Detroit Free Press:

The state Treasurer's Office warned the City of Detroit on Thursday that it could lose $80 million or more in state revenue sharing unless Mayor Dave Bing gets a lawsuit dropped by next week that challenges the city's financial stability agreement with the state.

Mayor Bing issued a statement last night saying he'd received the letter. Bing said Crittendon "believes she has the right to file the complaint."

However, as I have said before, this action only impedes our progress and places the City’s fiscal recovery in grave jeopardy. My team is working closely with the State to mitigate any negative impacts on my administration’s plan to financially stabilize the City. We want this matter resolved expeditiously for the sake of the citizens of Detroit.

Michigan House panel aims to put limits on abortion

A set of bills going through the legislature will put more restrictions on abortion providers in the state. A state House panel passed them yesterday, and now the bills are on the way to the state House floor. More from the Detroit News:

A House committee on Thursday advanced a three-bill package to the floor requiring abortion clinics to be licensed surgical centers, imposing new requirements for disposing of the remains of aborted fetuses and making it a crime to coerce a woman into terminating a pregnancy.

One of the bills includes a ban on late-term abortions for unborn children 20 or more weeks developed, with a narrow exception when the mother's life is at risk, said the bill sponsor, Rep. Deb Shaughnessy, R-Charlotte.

Polls show it's close between Obama and Romney in Michigan

Michigan is looking more and more like a swing state for either candidate. From the Huffington Post:

A poll released on Thursday by Lansing-based pollster EPIC-MRA has President Obama and Mitt Romney running neck and neck in Michigan, with Romney leading with 46 percent to Obama's 45 percent.

In a release, the Michigan Republican Party touted the results as evidence of Romney's growing strength in his home state. That would represent a shift from other polling conducted in the state, as well as EPIC's polling in April, which gave Obama a 4-point lead.

A set of bills aiming to more strictly regulate abortion providers in Michigan is on the way to the state House floor after clearing committee by a wide margin. 

Update 5:19 p.m. -From Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta:

The measures are backed by the Catholic Church and by the anti-abortion group Right to Life. Ed Rivet of Right to Life says critics are mis-representing their motives. He says the purpose is to ensure women have safe facilities 

“Every time we’ve  done this either women are going to die, or they’re going to be denied access to abortion and neither of those is true," Rivet said. "Those threats are always veiled, empty threats that never come true. The fact that 28 out of 32 abortion clinics in Michigan are not inspected or licensed is a fact.”

3:55 p.m.

The Detroit News reports that House Bills 5711-13 would make abortion providers follow new guidelines when handling the remains of aborted fetuses and require facilities where abortions are performed to seek the same licensing as surgery facilities, even if they only administer oral abortion medications. The bills would also make it a criminal act to coerce a woman into having an abortion. 

From the News:

In written testimony, the head of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan said the bills place "burdensome requirements" on women's health care clinics that only dispense oral abortion medication to upgrade their facilities to handle surgical abortions they do not perform.

"Women rightfully don't turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care or cancer treatments," said Lori Lamerand, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan. "Politicians should not be involved in a woman's personal medical decisions about her pregnancy."

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

The state House has approved measures that would make it a crime to threaten or coerce a woman to have an abortion.

The measures would cover threats of physical violence, but also withdrawing housing or financial support if a woman does not end a pregnancy. 

Republican state Rep. Bruce Rendon spoke in favor of the measures.

“When a woman or a young girl is threatened of losing a lifeline, whether it’s shelter, financial support, or even a brief period of calm between incidents of emotional or physical abuse, let’s be clear, that is extortion,” Rendon said.

Critics of the measure say it should offer similar protections to women who are threatened or assaulted if they want to end a pregnancy.

The package now goes to the state Senate.

The debate over abortion is expected to resume tomorrow at the state Capitol.

The state House is expected vote on measures to make it a crime to intimidate or coerce a woman into aborting a pregnancy.

The legislation would create a new crime of coercing a woman to have an abortion against her will. It would cover anything from the threat of violence to refusing to pay child support or getting a woman fired from a job.

No one is arguing in favor of allowing people to intimidate a woman into having an abortion. But opponents of the package say it should not single out as victims only women who are coerced into having an abortion. They say women who are threatened because they want to end a pregnancy should have the same protections.

There is also a fight over the use of the phrase “unborn child” in the legislation to define the fetus. Abortion rights supporters say that’s a loaded term and it should be not be used as a legal definition in a state law.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers might soon take some initial votes on bills related to abortion law in the state.

Legislation awaiting a vote in the Republican-led House would require a doctor or an assistant to do some screening before an abortion to make sure a pregnant woman isn't being forced or coerced to have the abortion against her will. Other bills would provide penalties for coercing a woman to have an abortion against her will.

Cedar Bend Drive / Flickr

Legislation introduced in the Michigan House would generally prohibit doctors from performing abortions after a woman's 20th week of pregnancy.

The legislation introduced last week by Republican Rep. Eileen Kowall of Oakland County's White Lake Township is similar to laws approved in a handful of other states in the past few years. Supporters say the proposals are based on the premise that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, a claim that opponents dispute.

Opponents also say the proposals are a departure from Roe v. Wade, which lets states limit abortions in cases where there's a viable chance the fetus could survive outside of the womb. That's generally considered to be 22 and 24 weeks.

The Michigan proposal would provide exceptions for when the mother's life is at risk.

The newsroom 8-ball says: "Answer hazy, try again later."

As we reported earlier this week, a proposal in the state legislature that would create a "Choose Life" specialty Michigan license plate cleared a Senate committee and has made its way to the chamber floor. If the proposal passes, proceeds from the plates would go to a newly-formed organization called the Choose Life Michigan Fund.

A Facebook fan responded, writing:  "These 'pregnancy resource centers' and 'other prolife entities' actively evangelize and attempt to convert vulnerable women to their version of Christianity."

This comment got us wondering, if the proposal passes, what exactly will money from the plates pay for?

MPRN's Capitol Bureau Chief Rick Pluta weighed in on the question of whether or not the proposed legislation would allow pro-life groups to use money raised by the state to proselytize in any way.

user Snappy.joneS / Flickr

Last week, Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark reported on a bill introduced in the Michigan Legislature that would "create a specialty license plate to raise money for the Right to Life of Michigan Fund."

Now, the Associated Press reports that the bill has cleared its first legislative hurdle, garnering unanimous approval  from the Michigan Senate Transportation Committee.

From the AP:

The legislation would allow Michigan residents to buy a "Choose Life" license plate with a portion of the money going to Right to Life. The organization says the money would go to abortion prevention projects.

The bill will now make its way to the state Senate floor, the Associated Press reports.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

user brother o'mara / Flickr

Legislators to challenge Michigan redistricting in court

The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus is expected to announce a lawsuit today challenging some of the new political boundaries drawn up and approved by the state Legislature and Governor.

From the Associated Press:

A press conference has been scheduled for Thursday at a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People office in Detroit.

The lawsuit's primary emphasis will be state House districts, according to Democratic Rep. Thomas Stallworth III of Detroit.

Democrats are upset that maps approved by the Republican-led Legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder would force incumbent state lawmakers from Detroit to run against each other in 2012.

It was not clear late Wednesday how or if the suit might address districts representing Michigan in the U.S. House.

Proposal to limit abortion coverage moving forward

Laura Weber reports a Senate panel cleared a proposal to restrict access to health care coverage for abortion procedures.

It would require individuals or employers to pay higher premiums to include abortion coverage in their health care plans.

Critics say women do not plan an abortion, so the proposal effectively strips their coverage.

Weber reports "there is no plan in the Senate to approve the abortion insurance proposal before lawmakers begin a winter break next week."

Detroit Police union leaders step down as negotiations heat up

Just as leaders from the city of Detroit are demanding more concessions from city union workers, two leaders from the Detroit Police Officers Association have announced they're retiring.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The Detroit Police Officers Association is planning to replace its leadership after the top two officials stepped down abruptly Tuesday, shocking colleagues as Mayor Dave Bing steps up his demand that police accept 10% wage cuts.

Union President Marty Bandemer and Vice President Cheryl Smith plan to retire officially at the end of the year after ending discussions with the Bing administration over concessions that police officers strongly oppose.

A proposal to limit access to health care coverage for abortion procedures has cleared a state Senate panel. The proposal would require employers or individuals purchasing health care plans to pay higher premiums if they want to include abortion coverage.         

Critics say it’s important for insurance companies to offer abortion coverage because no one plans for unintended pregnancies or unforeseen medical issues.

"Nobody expects to have an unintended pregnancy and I think nobody who has a wanted pregnancy expects that something is going to go wrong," said  Shelli Weisberg of the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the measure. "But the problem with this is it’s taken away something that women already have. From a moral standpoint – it’s taken away comprehensive coverage when women most need it.”

There is no plan in the Senate to approve the abortion insurance proposal before lawmakers begin a winter break next week.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a lawsuit to close two women's clinics that provide abortions in Saginaw and the Lansing area.

Schuette's office filed a complaint Monday in Eaton County Circuit Court seeking to dissolve Health Care Clinic Inc. in Delta Township and Women's Choice Clinic Inc. in Saginaw. The attorney general's office says an investigation included evidence of improper medical records disposal at the clinics owned by Richard Remund.

The Associated Press left a telephone message Monday for Remund. A person answering the phone at Health Care Clinic declined comment.

Schuette asks state health officials to review evidence suggesting improper records disposal and that at least half of procedures performed at the clinics were abortions. Schuette says the second would put the clinics under more stringent regulations.

A bill to enact a state ban on a controversial abortion procedure is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature. The procedure is already illegal under federal law, and the governor has gone on record saying he’d rather avoid controversial social questions while he focuses on a jobs-creation strategy.

A state Senate panel has approved a measure designed to make it more difficult for a pregnant minor to have an abortion. The proposal would prevent young women from so-called “judge-shopping” if one court denies her request to have an abortion without parental consent.

Mary Pollock is with the National Organization for Women. She says the proposal works against pregnant teens who don’t want to have a baby.

"Some teens fear that if their parents are told of their pregnancy, they will take actions to prevent the procedure and force them to complete the pregnancy," says Pollock.

Pollock says some teens will hurt themselves as they try to end pregnancies on their own.

The Legislature is also expected to send a ban on a controversial later-term abortion procedure to Governor Rick Snyder for his approval.

Banning Abortion

Sep 22, 2011

Yesterday, after a long series of what were described as impassioned floor speeches, the Michigan Legislature banned a medical procedure called “partial-birth abortion.”

Thinking about this is not for the faint of heart. The procedure, known medically as “dilation and extraction”  involves a technique where a fetus is killed after it partly emerges from the vagina.

A very small percentage of abortions have ever been performed this way -- less than a fifth of one percent. Some doctors have said this procedure sometimes makes sense for the safety of the mother.

At the state Capitol, the House and the Senate have approved separate measures that would ban a controversial abortion procedure that’s already illegal under federal law. Both bills were approved by commanding majorities.

Democratic state Representative Jimmy Womack is also a minister and a doctor. He was a “no” vote.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State Senate Republicans say they want to focus on proposals this fall that will help businesses create jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says eliminating the Michigan Business Tax on small businesses was a good start. He says now it’s time to get rid of the Personal Property Tax that businesses pay.

“The government itself does not create jobs, all we can do is better the environment. And that’s what we’re attempting to do with the legislation we’ve put on the table so far, and what we’ll continue this fall.”

Richardville says the Senate will also take up measures this fall to reform education and regulate the medical marijuana law.

The law was approved by a wide margin of voters in 2008.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says the law is too vague.

“I have a real concern about those that would abuse this law and that somehow more would illegal marijuana would end up on the street, and eventually find its way into our school yards. That’s my big concern here.”

Senate Republicans also plans to take up legislation to eliminate the tax on businesses and factory equipment. Education reforms, and a ban on a controversial abortion procedure are also at the top of the party’s fall agenda.

The state Legislature is expected to vote tomorrow to ban a controversial abortion procedure performed after 21 weeks of pregnancy.

“Dilation and extraction,” or “partial birth abortion,” as it’s called by opponents has been illegal in the U.S. since 2003.

Republican state Senator Geoff Hansen says the proposals in the Legislature would help ensure the procedure remains illegal in Michigan, no matter what.

“We want to make sure that our attorney general has every tool that he needs to make sure that we don’t have this practice happening in Michigan,” said Hansen.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says passing the same ban at the state level will cement Michigan’s stand on the procedure.

"It’s kind of an insurance policy, if you will, but also strengthens our resolve that this is something wrong that needs to be addressed wherever it’s found in the state of Michigan," said Richardville. "It’s a responsible bill that tells the citizens of Michigan that we’re concerned about partial-birth abortion, and we’ll do everything we can to stop it from happening in this state."

The proposed ban is set for votes this week in the state House and Senate.

The votes will likely come just before the anti-abortion group "Right to Life of Michigan" has a conference in Lansing this weekend. The group is expecting an update on the status of the proposed ban from one of the Senate sponsors.

A state House committee could vote this week to outlaw a procedure critics call partial-birth abortion.
  
Similar efforts to ban the procedure in Michigan have failed in the past. Two bills were vetoed, and three laws that were enacted were struck down by the courts.
 
But that was before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on the procedure in 2007. Ed Rivet of Right to Life of Michigan says this time around, he expects less of a fight.
 

Steve Rhodes / Flickr

Earlier this month, the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee approved bills that ban the practice of partial-birth abortions, a practice that is already banned by federal law. The federal law was also upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007.

Supporters of SB 160 and SB 161 say a state law is necessary so local officials can assist federal authorities when enforcing the law.

These are some examples of anti-abortion bills moving in the Michigan legislature.

Louise Knott Ahern wrote about other bills being considered in today's Lansing State Journal.

Ahern writes about bills aimed at preventing insurance companies from covering abortions unless the coverage is added as a separate rider on a policy. From the LSJ:

Within two months of being sworn in, GOP legislators introduced 11 bills backed by Right to Life.

The most sweeping change would come from two bills awaiting action in the House committee on health policy.

Introduced by Rep. Jud Gilbert of Algonac, they would prohibit insurance companies from covering abortions unless a woman adds the coverage as a rider on her policy and pays for it separately from her monthly premium...

The bills don't apply to emergency abortions in which the mother's life is at risk, nor do they ban insurance coverage outright. But abortion rights advocates fear they would essentially have that effect.

Sarah Scranton of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan says "we have looked in states that already have this and we have not been able to find one insurance provider that offered a rider for abortion coverage. Women don't plan for unplanned pregnancies. These riders don't exist."

If passed, the law could also apply to insurance plans that will be created under the federal health care law.

In 2014, health care exchanges are expected to be set up under the federal health care law. These group plans will be available to people who can't afford individual private plans. Ahern writes in a "last-minute" compromise, President Obama accepted a "clause that allows states to require the separate abortion riders for insurance plans purchased through the exchanges."

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