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abortion

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A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Rick Snyder says he's undecided about signing legislation that would require Michigan to create and sell an anti-abortion fundraising license plate.

The Republican-led Senate enrolled S.B. 163 Tuesday after it won mostly party-line approval in the Legislature.

Detroit skyline
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There's been a great effort to revitalize Detroit in recent years, but new figures from the US Census Bureau show the city is still losing population. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what it's going to take for Detroit to see some growth.

Photograph of a sunset over Torch Lake, Michigan
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Rachel Redmond had wanted to be a mother for a long time, ever since she was a little girl.

When she and her husband decided to have a child, Redmond became pregnant quickly.

“Everything was going according to plan, all of my early ultrasounds were perfect,” she said. 

Back when I was in junior high school, one of my classmates announced one April 30th that he had decided to become a Communist. This was not a very popular political choice in the Detroit suburbs in 1964, and our shocked social studies teacher asked why.

Well, little Richard said, we had learned that May Day was an international Communist holiday, and he wanted the day off. The teacher said nice try, but as long as we were operating under our Constitution, even Communists were expected to show up for school.

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Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has signed a bill making it illegal to financially benefit by selling or distributing a fetus or any fetal tissue – a practice that's already illegal.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down several restrictions on abortion providers in Texas, which could have implications on similar restrictions in Michigan.
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Yesterday's landmark ruling by the United States Supreme Court applied specifically to abortion clinics in Texas, but it could have far-reaching implications for Michigan, too.

The court's decision came in a 5-3 vote, with the majority opinion written by Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.

LANSING – Coercing a woman to have an abortion would be a misdemeanor in Michigan, under a bill sent to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Senate approved the legislation, 26-11, Wednesday with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it. The bill would make coercion a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000; $10,000 if the accused is the father of the embryo or fetus.

A protester shows her support for Planned Parenthood outside the Supreme Court Building in March
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Planned Parenthood has been getting some very strong pressure from pro-life supporters, including members of the state Legislature, who want to shut the organization down because it provides abortions.

Or, at the very least, they want to severely restrict Planned Parenthood's funding and operations. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report suggests it’s getting harder to get reproductive health care at Michigan hospitals.

A series of hospital mergers in recent years means more hospitals in Michigan are part of a Catholic health system.

Research
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It would be a felony to get any money for donating or transporting fetal tissue in Michigan, under bills passed by the Republican-led Senate today. 

But Democrats say the bills are cracking down on something that's already illegal – and potentially criminalizing basic medical practices. 

Since 1993, it's been illegal to make any profit from fetal tissue donation. 

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit the ACLU filed in 2015 against a Roman Catholic hospital group. The lawsuit challenged the hospital group’s anti-abortion policy.

Livonia-based Trinity Health operates 86 facilities in 21 states.

The ACLU alleges pregnant women who develop complications are being discriminated against at Trinity’s hospitals because the Catholic health group won't terminate pregnancies.

When it comes to senseless violence, the last few weeks have been, simply, horrible. Yesterday’s mass killing in San Bernadino, the Paris attacks, the shooting at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs six days ago.

When I first heard a bulletin about the Planned Parenthood shootings, I mistakenly thought that it had happened in Michigan. And I have to confess that I was irrationally relieved that it didn’t happen here, though lives lost in Colorado are no less important.

Marijuana plant.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss proposed bills relating to abortion and medical marijuana, what’s behind the $21 million lobbyists spent at the state capital this year, and the impact of a possible influx of Syrian refugees to Metro Detroit.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
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People would face criminal penalties for coercing someone to have an abortion under a bill in the state House.

Republican state lawmakers have been trying to add the penalties for years. Supporters say prosecutors should have them as a tool to crack down on domestic abuse.

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This week, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the final days of lame duck, including the hold up on a plan to fix the roads, a pair of Senate-approved abortion coercion bills, and a bill that would impact online purchases made in Michigan.


Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Republican-led Michigan Senate has voted to make it a crime to coerce a woman to have an abortion against her will.

The legislation would prohibit stalking or assaulting a pregnant woman or anyone else with the intent to force an abortion against her wishes. After learning that a woman does not want an abortion, a person also could not threaten to cut off legally required financial support or withdraw from a contract with her.

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Coercing someone to have an abortion would carry tougher penalties under bills approved by the state Senate on Thursday.

The crime could result in criminal penalties under Senate Bills 1156 and 1157.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

Democrats in the state Legislature want to require insurance companies to offer coverage for abortions.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a petition-initiated law last year banning abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. Under that law, people can only buy coverage for abortions as a separate insurance plan, known as a “rider.”

Democrats say just seven of Michigan’s 42 health insurers offer those riders and none of them offers the plans to individuals buying insurance on their own.

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It was during the lame-duck session late last year when the state Legislature passed a law blocking insurers from paying for abortions as part of general coverage in company health care plans.

Under the law, women would have to buy extra coverage for an abortion, even in cases of rape or when the woman's life is in danger.

The law was passed without a public hearing on the basis of petitions that had been circulated by Right To Life of Michigan. It took effect in March.

Now two lawmakers are trying to get that law overturned. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, will introduce the measure in the Senate while Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, will do so in the House.

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This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the latest in the same-sex marriage debate, roads funding, whether Democrats can overturn the abortion insurance law, and a new controversy with the Education Achievement Authority.

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Legislation in the state House proposed by state Rep. Thomas Hooker, R-Byron Center, would require abortion providers to use ultrasound to detect a fetus's heartbeat – and offer the woman a chance to hear it.

That bill has the support of Right to Life of Michigan.

But the group does not support Hooker's two other bills that make it a crime to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected.

Ultrasound can generally detect a heartbeat at about seven weeks.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research.
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It was late last year that state lawmakers passed The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.

Starting this Friday, insurance companies will not be allowed to sell policies that include abortion coverage as a standard feature.

Customers would have to buy separate add-ons, riders, to cover abortion and they would have to do it before ever knowing whether they will want to obtain an abortion.

And how that might or might not happen is pretty confusing.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, and she joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan’s law barring insurance companies from including abortion coverage in basic policies takes effect this week. 

7 insurance companies, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield, will offer an additional rider.

David Waymire is a spokesman for the Michigan Association of Health Plans.      He says most Michiganders get their insurance from self-insured company health plans which are not covered by the law.   

“So there’s really a small number of people that will ever be affected by this law at this point,” says Waymire.

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Can art and history change the tone of the conversation in the pro-choice movement?

Artist and activist Heather Ault believes they can.

Heather is the founder of 4000 Years for Choice. She's created an art series that presents abortion and contraception as a part of human history, a history of women seeking to control their reproduction.

Her posters are currently on exhibit at the Lane Hall Gallery on the University of Michigan campus.

Heather Ault joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – women's reproductive rights remain in the political spotlight.

Let's turn our attention to that subject here in Michigan. It was mid-December when state lawmakers approved a controversial law requiring consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage.

This means a person has to buy a rider before knowing they need an abortion; they would not be able to buy a rider after getting pregnant. And the law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

The law goes into effect in March, and there’s confusion over just how this is supposed to work.

Marianne Udow Phillips is director of The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation at the University of Michigan. She talks to us today and explains what the new law means.

Listen to the full interview above.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley talk about Governor Rick Snyder's upcoming State of the State address, a new effort to save Detroit pensions and the Detroit Institute of Arts, and how abortion right advocates are backing off efforts to block a law that requires women to buy a separate health insurance rider to cover abortions.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

A coalition of abortion rights advocates will not try to immediately repeal a Right to Life-backed state law that requires women to buy a separate health insurance rider to cover abortions.

“Our efforts and our resources are better spent on a broad strategy to address this growing frustration that is about more than just one issue in one discrete moment in time, but about the larger impact of politicians using women as target practice,” said Rana Elmir, Deputy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

There’s a new law in Michigan, and insurance companies and their customers are trying to figure out who’s affected by it.

Starting March 13, 2014, women will be required to purchase additional insurance for abortion coverage. Insurance companies will not be allowed to provide the coverage as part of their normal plans.

But analysts say the new law does not affect some health care plans.

More from Chad Livengood and Gary Heilein in today’s Detroit News:

Confusion reigns about the law, said Rick Murdock, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, an industry group representing 16 health plans in the state except Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Self-insured employers, who pay directly for medical care for employees, are regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor and not subject to state rules, said Murdock, the office of Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger and some state officials.

Murdock said smaller firms — usually those with less than 150 to 200 workers — as well as companies that don’t self-fund their coverage and people buying private health insurance on their own are “fully exposed” to the law.

That amounts to one in three individuals with group or government-sponsored health plans, according to Livengood and Heilein.

How will Michigan's abortion law work?

Dec 17, 2013
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Last week, the Michigan legislature approved a voter-initiated law that bans abortion coverage in standard health insurance policies. The law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

Joining us now to help us better understand the new law is Marianne Udow-Phillips, Director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation based at the University of Michigan. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Incensed Democrats and abortion rights advocates are vowing that Republican lawmakers overreached so much with new restrictions on abortion coverage in Michigan's public and private health insurance plans that it'll cost them in next elections.

A ballot drive to override the law is being considered. If enough signatures are collected, the statewide vote would coincide with November elections and keep the issue fresh in voters' minds.

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