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Michigan Governor Signs Extreme Anti-Abortion Bill Into Law

By Tara Culp-Ressler on December 31, 2012 at 9:45 am

"Michigan Governor Signs Extreme Anti-Abortion Bill Into Law"

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Protests against Michigan's HB 5711

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has approved a controversial package of abortion restrictions that will limit abortion access for women who live in rural areas, require doctors to prove that mentally competent women haven’t been “coerced” into their decision to have the procedure, and enact unnecessary, complicated rules for abortion clinics and providers. The governor signed HB 5711 into law on Friday despite widespread protests against the omnibus anti-abortion measure.

Snyder claims that HB 5711 “respects a woman’s right to choose while helping protect her health and safety.” But women’s health advocates warn the law will seriously threaten women’s access to the health services they need by imposing harsh regulations on abortion clinics and providers:

Critics of the Michigan law fear its insistence on new, standalone facilities will hurt women in rural and low-income areas as it could force some clinics to close. They say questioning women on whether an abortion is voluntary subjects them to a type of interrogation.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, an abortion rights group that opposed the measure, said it could force many existing abortion providers in the state to either tear down their offices and rebuild from the ground up — or shutter their practices. [...]

Safety was never the intention of this law. The only thing this law accomplishes is to make a difficult decision even more difficult,” said Rana Elmir, the communications director for the Michigan ACLU.

Even some state lawmakers who supported HB 5711 acknowledge the law isn’t actually intended to protect women. “This is about protecting fetuses,” one Republican legislator explained.

Michigan legislators were quick to capitalize on this year’s lame duck session to push through controversial abortion restrictions, potentially because five anti-choice state lawmakers lost their seats in November’s election. The majority of Michigan voters support legal access to abortion services.

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