Michigan Judiciary Committee Rushes Through Abortion Restrictions, Despite Doctors’ Warnings

The Michigan state senate’s judiciary committee heard about an hour of testimony today before promptly passing onto the full Senate a restrictive and unclear anti-abortion measure — just 19 hours after announcing that the hearing would even be taking place.

One woman who testified, holding up two coupons with scribbled writing on the back, explained that she didn’t have time to prepare an official testimony, so those notes were all she had.

The law, if passed, would require doctors to ensure that they were not coercing women into an abortion. It is unclear how they might ascertain that information, but many medical professionals offered testimonies warning that the law was too broad and too unclear.

“This bill is a very complicated bill,” Dr. Tim Johnson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Health System, said. “All of us in this room ultimately care a lot about the safety of women.”


The legislation would also require women whose pregnancy is terminated, even those who miscarry, to cremate fetal remains, fill out a death certificate, and work with a funereal director to dispose of the fetus. It also requires clinics to be licensed as surgical facilities, andallows anyone who says they experience “emotional distress” because of incorrect fetal disposal to sue the person who disposes of the fetus.

Johnson urged the committee to take more time on the decision. He also took offense to the idea that doctors would do something that was not in the best interest of their patients, citing the Hippocratic oath and pointing out that “these aren’t abortion doctors, they’re gynecologists.” He also made an ominous warning: One day, one doctor will get shot because of the extreme anti-abortion actions that stigmatize doctors.

The warnings seemed to fall on deaf ears. State Sen. Rick Jones (R), who chairs the committee, proceeded to a vote after the hour of debate. The bill passed 3–1.

“I will not take another month to slow down this process when we have women being coerced in this state,” Jones said during the hearing. A request for comment from his office about why the process was so fast was not immediately returned.


ThinkProgress got in touch with Sen. Jones, who said that he would be willing to reconsider requiring surgical licenses for clinics that only administer medication abortions. “We’re going to take a look at that,” Jones said. “These rules have reasons, and obviously we will take a look at that.”