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Mich. Senate Approves Bills on Patient 'Risk Assessments,' Abortion Clinic Inspections

Mich. Senate Approves Bills on Patient 'Risk Assessments,' Abortion Clinic Inspections

December 13, 2012 — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday voted 27-10 to approve broad legislation (HB 5711) that would place several new restrictions on abortion providers, MLive reports (Martin, MLive, 12/12).

The bill would require physicians to determine if a woman has been coerced into seeking an abortion and deliver a written "risk assessment" to patients at least 24 prior to an abortion. The bill also would ban the use of telemedicine in reproductive health care, including for birth control (Bouffard, Detroit News, 12/12).

Additionally, the legislation would require facilities that provide 120 or more abortions per year to undergo inspections and pay an annual licensing fee -- currently $238 -- to become certified as outpatient surgical centers. Although it is not clear how many clinics the Senate's version of the bill would affect, the House bill would require 16 state abortion providers to gain additional licensure, according to estimates from the state's Bureau of Health Systems.

Opponents of the legislation said the most costly provision relates to the bills' requirement that abortion clinics meet the same building standards as outpatient surgical centers.

State Sen. Rebekah Warren (D) unsuccessfully attempted to add provisions aimed at reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies, including expanding access to birth control. Amendments intended to highlight the bill's lack of gender parity -- including a requirement that men's vasectomies be permitted only when necessary to prevent death -- also were rejected (MLive, 12/12).

The legislation now returns to the House for a concurrence vote before it will be sent to Gov. Rick Snyder (R) for approval (Daum, Lansing State Journal, 12/12).

Reaction

Warren said the bill is an attempt to keep "chipping away at [the] fundamental right to choose," adding that it represents a "shameless" and "backdoor" attempt to restrict abortion access (MLive, 12/12).

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) said Michigan is on the way to becoming the most regressive state in the country with regard to women's reproductive rights. She referenced another bill passed earlier this month that imposes restrictions on abortion coverage.

Meghan Groen, government relations director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, also weighed in on the bill's passage. In an email to supporters on Wednesday, she wrote, "House Bill 5711 is vague, poorly written and will have incredibly serious ramifications for women," adding, "This legislation undermines women's access to health care and gives politicians, not doctors, control over personal medical decisions."

House Comm. Approves Refusal Bill

Separately on Wednesday, the House Insurance Committee approved a bill (SB 975) that would allow health care providers and insurers to refuse to offer or cover services because of religious or moral objections.

The bill also prohibits discrimination against providers or payers that refuse to provide or pay for the services.

Lawmakers hope to adjourn for the year on Thursday and are in a rush to complete action on several bills, the Detroit News reports. SB 975 is among the bills the full House could consider on Thursday, according to Ari Adler, a spokesperson for House Speaker Jase Bolger (R) (Detroit News, 12/12).