Lawmakers pass ban on controversial abortion procedure

Sep 21, 2011

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.

"The God that I worship gives me the gift to choose. I think we ought to be very careful and we are sliding down a slippery slope when we take away the gift to choose. I am pro-life and pro-choice, and for people who think you can’t be both, they need to review what those definitions mean again.”

The “dilation and extraction” procedure is already illegal under federal law. It’s performed after 21 weeks of pregnancy.  The bills’ Republican sponsors say a state ban is needed in case the federal law prohibiting the dilation-and extraction procedure is repealed. Earlier efforts by the state to enact a ban on the procedure have been struck down by federal courts.      

Republican state Senator Arlan Meekhof says there are a couple reasons it’s important to codify the federal law at the state level.

 “If we make this barbaric procedure illegal in Michigan we will empower our locals our police departments, our county prosecutors and our attorney general to enforce this law. Secondly, I don’t think we should rely on Congress to keep partial birth abortions illegal.”

Passage of the abortion bills comes just before a meeting this weekend of the anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan. Meekhof – who is expected to speak at the function – says the timing of the meeting did not play into the Legislature’s action on the proposed ban.