It’s times like this that I miss being the editor of the Michigan Messenger. This is a story we’d be all over. Republicans in the Michigan legislature have introduced what is being called the broadest attack on reproductive rights anywhere in the country — and it’s being fast-tracked for passage.
A massive, 60-page omnibus bill that drastically limits abortion access and could shut down all abortion clinics in the state is being rushed through the Michigan State House of Representatives on Thursday.
The bill was introduced just last week, but lawmakers held a hearing for it on Thursday morning and are sending it to a full House vote on Thursday afternoon. A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan said about 90 people showed up at the Health Policy Committee hearing to testify against the bill, but Committee Chair Gail Haines (R-Waterford) abruptly ended the hearing and cut off all testimony after a Michigan Right to Life spokesperson and only a few others were able to speak.
“We had a lot of doctors there and members of the committee asking questions about what the full ramifications of a lot of these provisions could be, and quite frankly a lot of folks couldn’t answer them,” said Meghan Groen, a spokesperson for PPMSM.
In the Michigan legislature, committee chairs have total control. They can allow one side to speak on a bill and no one else if they want to. Here’s what the bill would do:
Specifically, the omnibus bill would criminalize all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions for rape victims, the health of the woman or in cases where there is a severe fetal anomaly. It would require health centers that provide abortions to have surgery rooms, even when they don’t provide surgical abortions. It would require doctors to be present for medication abortions and to screen women for “coercion” before providing an abortion, and it would create new regulations for the disposal of fetal remains.
The bill would also ban “telemedicine” abortions, or the use of technology to prescribe medication for abortion services and the morning-after pill.
“It could shut down most reproductive health centers in the state of Michigan,” said Groen. “It’s the most extreme legislation we’re seeing anywhere in the country.”
The bills passed the committee on Thursday and will certainly pass the full House soon. The Republicans have total control over both chambers of the legislature. The wildcard is Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican who is generally not a social conservative and, I’m sure, wishes this would not hit his desk. It’s possible that he could veto some of those bills, but I wouldn’t bet on it. And even if he does, those vetoes could be overridden because the Republicans have such total control.