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Michigan’s New Anti-Abortion Law Nation’s Worst

Michigan’s legislature is fast tracking a new omnibus bill on abortion that combines every pending bill relating to women’s health on the legislative agenda. Here are the highlights, or lowlights of this bill:

On fast reading of the bills parts, it appears to use a fetal age standard of after conception, not after onset of last period.

It bans all abortions at 20 weeks with no exemption for the health of the mother, rape, incest or fatal fetal anomaly. It has a very limited exemption for the mother’s life.

It asserts that fetuses feel pain.

It requires all aborted fetuses after 8 weeks be buried, cremated or interred under exactly the same guidelines as any dead body. At 8 weeks gestational age, a fetus is a half-inch long (the diameter of a Sharpie) and weighs 0.04 ounces (the weight of 2-3 standard paper clips.) The cost of a burial or internment for an infant is an average of $4,600. The cost of cremation for an infant ranges from $250 to $400.

Creates new licensing requirements and removes the exemption for family planning facilities, and requires full surgical facilities even if an abortion provider does not do surgical abortions.

It forbids the use of methotrexate to treat an ectopic pregnancy, a standard form of treatment, thereby forcing a woman to undergo surgical treatment to end the pregnancy. (Well, at least they recognize that an unaborted ectopic pregnancy will kill a woman.) It also forbids the use of medication in a manner not specified by the USDA. Many medication-induced abortions are performed by using combinations of drugs that may not have been originally intended for abortions, and this use of the drugs is the professionally recommended, safest way to perform medication-induced abortion

It bans telemedicine. This practice would typically involve either a doctor who is not an ob/gyn or a nurse practitioner or doctor’s assistant consulting by telephone or over the internet with a specialist in another part of the state. The specialist could then prescribe the necessary medications for an emergency abortion or contraception. This system allows women in remote areas (remember how freaking big Michigan is, 386 miles across and 456 miles long) to receive the consultation of a specialist without having to travel hours to reach one. One of the ideas making its way through the medical industry is the one about doctors being able to consult with each other over vast distances. This bill ends the ability for long-distance ob/gyn consultation before the system to do so is even in place.

The bill requires physicians who perform 5 or more abortions per month to carry $1,000,000 in liability insurance if they have been subject to 2 or more civil suits in the past 7 years, have been found noncompliant with health and safety requirements or has received sanctions. The wording of the bill is too vague, and would probably force all ob/gyns who perform abortions to carry additional liability insurance. According to the latest statistics I could find, an ob/gyn carrying $200,000 to $600,000 in liability insurance pays anywhere from $33,800 to $118,950 per year depending on location, deductibles and carrier. Triple that to meet the requirements for this bill – $100,000 to $355,000 per year. (And this is from the political party that claims that the awards made in medical malpractice cases have driven up the cost of medical malpractice insurance until it is the principle cause of the high cost of medicine in America.)

The bill sets out requirements for doctors to play detective to determine if the mother has been coerced or is the victim of domestic abuse. They must provide a questionnaire to their patients that will advise them of the illegality of coercion.

House Bill 5711 is 60 pages long. It was just 45 pages a week ago, but the legislators added three extra provisions to it. It was introduced by Rep. Bruce Reardon on May 31, referred to the Committee on Health Policy on June 1. The public hearing was held Thursday, June 7, afterwards, it was returned to the House with amendments and referred for second reading. After taking testimony from a Michigan Right to Life spokesperson and a half-dozen other anti-abortion advocates, Committee Chairperson Gail Haines, Republican of Waterford, ended the hearing. No doctor, no representative of a women’s health facility, no scientist was allowed to testify. Over 90 people had shown up to testify and were prevented from doing so. The bill passed out of committee on a 13-5 vote.

Though initial reports suggested the bill would go to the floor on Thursday, it appears that it will be Tuesday before the vote is taken.

Speaking on local television on Wednesday, Representative Mike Shirkey, Republican of Clark Lake, said that abortion “is nothing short of infanticide. Until we completely eliminate abortions in Michigan and completely defund Planned Parenthood, we have work to do.” That’s the delusional and deluded Republicans for you. They want to destroy Planned Parenthood because they have been deluded into believing that PP is an abortion mill, and they are delusional if they think criminalizing abortion will eliminate it. Remember, abortion is illegal in Argentina, where there were a half million illegal abortions last year.

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