Controversial Mich. Abortion Bill Passes Senate Committee

July 27, 2012 — The Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved an antiabortion bill (HB 5711) that was the center of controversy last month on the state House floor, the Detroit News reports.

Under the measure, abortion clinics would need to be to be licensed and some providers who perform more than six abortions a month would need to carry $1 million in malpractice insurance. Clinic workers would have to ask women if they have been forced to obtain an abortion. A funeral director who has a state permit would be required to cremate or bury fetal remains (Bouffard, Detroit News, 7/27). Further, the bill would ban the use of web cameras to remotely prescribe or provide abortion medication (Martin, Michigan Live, 7/25).

The legislation sparked outcry on the House floor on June 13 when Michigan Rep. Lisa Brown (D) concluded a speech opposing a package of antiabortion bills, including HB 5711, by saying, "Finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'" Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas (R) gaveled Brown out of order, and she was barred from speaking on the floor the next day (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/12).

Lori Lamerand, board chair of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said in a statement that the bill could ban abortion statewide, adding, "This legislation is being fast-tracked with little time for lawmakers to read and understand it, let alone to provide adequate time and notice for public input."

The full Senate could vote on the bill as early as Aug. 15, when lawmakers return -- but state Sen. Rick Jones (R) said it is unlikely to be voted on before September (Detroit News, 7/27).