January 3, 2013 — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) on Dec. 28 signed a broad measure (HB 5711) that imposes several new restrictions on abortion rights, but he vetoed a separate health insurance overhaul (SB 1293, SB 1294) because of a provision barring health plans and employers from providing abortion coverage, Reuters reports (Kelleher, Reuters, 12/28/12).
HB 5711, which the Senate and House approved last month, requires physicians to determine if a woman has been coerced into seeking an abortion and deliver a written "risk assessment" to patients at least 24 hours prior to an abortion. The bill also bans the use of telemedicine in reproductive health care, including for birth control.
Additionally, the bill requires facilities that provide 120 or more abortions per year to undergo inspections and pay an annual licensing fee to become certified as outpatient surgical centers. The provision would require many clinics to complete costly renovations to meet the same building standards as outpatient surgical facilities.
A controversial requirement that an aborted fetus be buried, cremated or interred was removed from the final legislation (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/14/12). The final bill also omitted a requirement that a woman undergo a physical exam before obtaining emergency contraception (Bouffard, Detroit News, 12/29/12).
In a news release, Snyder said the measure "respects a woman's right to choose while helping her protect her health and safety." The law takes effect March 31.
Health Insurance Bill
Meanwhile, Snyder vetoed legislation that would have converted Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan into a consumer-owned, not-for profit insurer. Although Snyder initially sought the legislation, he objected to language that was added to prohibit health plans and employers from offering abortion coverage (Karoub, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/28/12). Under the provision, women who wanted abortion coverage would have to purchase it through a separate rider (Martin, MLive, 12/28/12).
"I don't believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage," Snyder commented. He added, "And as a practical matter, I believe this type of policy is an overreach of government into the private market" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/28/12).
State Sen. Rebekah Warren (D), formerly Michigan's NARAL affiliate director, said the enactment of HB 5711 marked a "sad day for Michigan women," adding that women "will pay for this legislation with their dignity, health, and ultimately some even with their lives." She noted that access to basic gynecological care is already difficult in Michigan, as more than one-fourth of counties lack an ob-gyn.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said the bill "was meant to ban abortion in Michigan, and it was pushed through in a lame-duck session by legislators who were voted out of office because of their extreme views on women's health" (Yarrow, Daily Beast, 12/28/12).
Supporters of HB 5711 said it will protect women's safety. "Licensing and inspecting abortion clinics for health and safety standards will serve to better protect those women who, regrettably, choose the path of abortion," said Rebecca Mastee, a policy advocate for the Michigan Catholic Conference (MLive, 12/28/12).