Michigan Senate approves anti-abortion bills - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Michigan Senate approves anti-abortion bills

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate voted Wednesday to restrict and regulate abortion practices, including requiring a health professional to screen patients to ensure they aren't being forced to end pregnancies.
 
The measures previously approved by the GOP-led House were approved by a 27-10 vote, mostly along party lines. The legislation returns to the House for its final review of changes before going to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
 
The bill package also enacts regulations related to the disposal of fetal remains. It additionally requires private medical offices to be licensed as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities if they perform at least 120 abortions annually and undergo annual state inspections.
 
Another key provision requires a physician to perform a mandatory physical examination before prescribing drugs that would cause a medically induced abortion, and prohibits the use of telemedicine, or a web-based camera for that exam.
 
The legislation drew a litany of failed amendments from Democratic Sen. Rebekah Warren, who described it as "dangerous and punitive." Warren's changes included one making the coercion language neutral so criminal penalties also could apply to someone forcing a woman to carry her pregnancy to its full term, and another requiring a man seeking a vasectomy to be examined by a physician to determine that it's medically necessary.
 
"Women in Michigan, I hope you're paying attention -- today, the sky has fallen," said Warren of Ann Arbor, who spent several years working for a nonprofit women's reproductive health clinic. "This is a shameless back-door attempt to shut down women's reproductive health clinics in the state."
 
Supporters viewed the measures as commonsense reforms that keep women safe.
 
"This bill requires abortion clinics in Michigan be licensed and inspected just like we license junkyards, casinos, dentists' offices, tattoo parlors and everything else," said Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge. "This bill is a pro-woman bill."
 
The legislation had been stripped of some contentious aspects as it moved through the legislative process. Most recently, a requirement was removed that required a physician to maintain at least $1 million worth of liability coverage if he or she performed at least six abortions per month and met certain other conditions regarding liability or professional disciplinary sanctions. Earlier, lawmakers didn't take up a companion bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
 
The changes haven't pacified many Democrats and other critics, who say the measures are confusing, contradictory and already covered by state laws not being enforced.  
 
Democratic state Sen. Coleman Young II, son of Detroit's late fiery mayor, said the bills have "nothing to do with women" and added his stance was shaped by his family history. The senator was a boy when his mother filed a paternity suit against then-Mayor Coleman Young, and the mayor began paying child support and set up a trust fund for his son after tests confirmed paternity.
 
Sen. Young, who was born Joel Loving and changed his name around the time of his father's death in 1997, said his mother refused suggestions by some that she should have an abortion.
 
"My mother told me this was a decision she made, but would she make that decision for another woman? Absolutely not," he said. "I don't think the government should be making decisions about women for their body."
 
Jones said the legislation "won't stop abortions in the state of Michigan, but it will make them a heck of a lot safer."
 
The measures were supported by Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference. They were renounced by Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan.

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