The God Discussion originally reported on 12 December 2012, and then again on 20 December 2012, about the Michigan legislature passing the 'omnibus bill,' HB 5711. This bill addressed construction codes and regulations for abortion clinics, as well as the ability for physicians to prescribe abortion related medication over the telephone.
HB5711 passed by by a 27-10 vote, and it is the most restrictive measure to date. The measures contained in the bill would require that doctors prove that their patient was in no way coerced into her decision to terminate her pregnancy. This amounts to a 'guilty before innocent' structure, where a negative must be proven.
Further measures would severely limit the access to abortion services for women living in outlying and rural areas, as well as a requirement for abortion clinics to dispose of a fetus using the same regulations that are in place for the disposal of the dead.
These regulations could result in the elimination of every abortion clinic in Michigan, and HB5711 is only one cog in a machine of extremely restrictive anti-choice initiatives that have come out of Michigan's lame-duck session this past week.
On Friday, 28 December 2012, Governor Snyder gave his approval and signed the bill into law. The new law will limit the access to abortion services for women living in rural areas, and includes a requirement that doctors prove that women seeking abortions are mentally competent and have not been coerced or forced into their decision.
The bill also includes new construction standards and other rules for abortion clinics that could end up with a large number of them having to shut down.
In a report filed by ThinkProgress, Governor Snyder had the following comment about HB 5711,
“…respects a woman’s right to choose while helping protect her health and safety.”
The bill has been met with resistenc by advocates of women's health and other critics, who stated that the regulations are harsh, and will hurt low-income women, particularly those living in the outlying and rural areas. As well, they have stated the process of determining the mental health of women, along with trying to ascertain whether or not they have been coerced will subject them to what amounts to interrogation.
The report quotes Rana Elmir, the Communications Director for the Michigan ACLU,
“Safety was never the intention of this law. The only thing this law accomplishes is to make a difficult decision even more difficult.”
There is some dissension within the ranks, as Republican Senator Howard Walker stated that the law had nothing to do with protecting women, but,
“This is about protecting fetuses.”
The law was pushed through during Michigan's lame duck session, in spite of the majority of Michigan voters supporting the legal access to abortion services.