The Michigan House has passed HB 5711, the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion bill that combines some of the worst attacks on women’s access to abortion care into one bill. The massive 45-page, Republican-backed legislation limits when a woman could have an abortion and puts a greater, unnecessary burden on abortion providers.
Opponents have loudly protested against the measure that has been jammed through the legislature — it was introduced on May 31 and a committee approved it last week — and Democratic lawmakers spoke out against it before the House passed the bill 70–39. “This bill is not about protecting women’s health,” said state Rep. Kate Segal (D).
1) Bans Abortions After 20 Weeks, Even For Rape And Incest Victims: A woman would not be able to have an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation based on the widely disputed idea that a fetus can feel pain after that point. The only exception would be if a woman’s life was in danger.
2) Transforms Doctors Into Detectives: The Republican-backed legislation would make it a crime for anyone to coerce a woman into having an abortion. Doctors will have to give their patients a questionnaire to inform them of the illegality of coercion and determine if the woman had been coerced or is the victim of domestic abuse before the abortion procedure.
3) Limits Access For Rural Women: Under the omnibus bill, doctors would have to be physically present to perform a medication abortion, thus preventing a doctor from administering abortion-inducing medication by consulting via telephone or internet. This would especially hurt rural women, who may have to travel hours to meet in-person with a specialist.
4) Requires Doctors To Purchase Costly Malpractice Insurance: If HB 5711 goes into effect, then doctors would be required to carry $1 million in liability insurance if they perform five or more abortions each month or have been subject to two more more civil suits in the past seven years, among other requirements. But the qualifications are so vague that almost all doctors who perform abortions could be required to carry the additional liability insurance at a potential cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
5) Regulates Clinics Out Of Existence: HB 5711 would create new regulations so that any clinic that provides six or more abortions in a month or one which advertises abortion services would have to be licensed as a “freestanding surgical outpatient facility.” That means that even if a clinic does not offer surgical abortions, it would be required to have a full surgical suite.
Now that the state House has passed the largest of the three bills, it will likely approve the two companion measures as well. Even though lawmakers rushed the bill through the House, the state Senate is not expected to vote on the measure until September. The body is composed of 26 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
Annie-Rose Strasser contributed to this report.
The ban on abortions after 20 weeks is in HB 5713, one of the companion bills that the House is expected to pass soon.
Lawmakers will not hold votes on the two additional anti-abortion bills, including the 20-week ban. “We decided not to take that up right now so we can discuss the legislation further,” Ari Adler, spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger (R), told the Detroit News.