Lansing Update: March 16, 2012
Posted March 16, 2012
In This Week’s Lansing Update:
- Legislation Banning Abortion Coercion Heads to Senate
- Senate Subcommittee Addresses Lack of Abortion Clinic Inspections
- Failure to Report Stem Cell Research Could Mean Decreased Funds for U of M
With overwhelming bipartisan support, the Michigan House of Representatives this week passed legislation that would make it a crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion. The legislation, House Bills 4798, 4799, 5134, 5181 and 5182 now await consideration from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The package of bills were introduced following a study from the Elliot Institute, which published a fact sheet stating 64 percent of women who abort their child do so due to coercive forces. The legislative package makes coercing a woman into an abortion a misdemeanor crime with fines ranging between $5,000 and $10,000.
According to the bills, stalking or assaulting a woman to convince her to abort a child, or withdrawing support or employment toward the same end would be prohibited. The legislation also allows civil action by or on behalf of the woman against the person who coerced or attempted to coerce the abortion. Facilities that provide abortions also would have set protocols to screen whether a woman might be coerced to terminate the pregnancy.
A hearing date for the legislation in the Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to be set. Michigan Catholic Conference, Michigan Right to Life, Michigan Family Forum and the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence have offered support for the legislation.
The Senate Appropriations Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee this week addressed a recent report from Right to Life of Michigan which alleges that abortion clinics across the state are not regularly inspected. Senator Mark Jansen (R-Gaines Township), chairman of the subcommittee, has stated that extra funds may be needed for the Bureau of Health Systems to add staff in order to clear a backlog of inspections.
According to an overview of the Right to Life report decades of abuses at abortion clinics have demonstrated “a pattern and practice of gross violations throughout the industry”:
- Illegal biohazard waste disposal and breaches of medical record privacy,
- Negligent operative and post-operative practices that result in patient injury and death,
- Refusals to release medical records for patient use and patient follow-up care,
- Failure to report to the state medical complications, including patient deaths,
- Illegal drug prescription, storage, and administration practices,
- Failure to ensure sterile, sanitary surgical equipment and a sterile operative environment,
- Violations of the law regarding informed consent for abortions, and
- Performance abortions past the point of viability without documentation of a maternal health reason.
Conversations related to the Right to Life report are expected to continue as legislators seem interested in finding sufficient funding for the necessary inspections.
Members of the House Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee this week expressed outrage at the University of Michigan over its failure to comply with legislation that mandates any university conducting human embryo research to report its activities to the state. Members of the committee stated publicly it may look to decrease state funding for U of M after the school submitted a packet of news releases and news stories rather than actual research information.
In November 2008 voters approved a controversial constitutional amendment that allows researchers to destroy human embryos in the state in order to conduct stem cell research on those embryos. The State of Michigan Fiscal Year 2011–12 Higher Education budget included language that mandates those conducting human embryo destructive research to report:
- the number of human embryos and the number of human embryo stem cell lines received by the university during fiscal year 2010–11;
- the number of human embryos utilized for research purposes during the same time;
- the number of human embryo stem cell lines created from the embryos received that fiscal year;
- the number of donated human embryos being held in storage by the university as of September 30, 2011; and
- the number of research projects using human embryonic stem cells derived from donated embryos being conducted by the university.
University of Michigan was a supporter of the 2008 ballot proposal and has opposed through its government relations staff legislative efforts to bring transparency to the embryo destruction business in Michigan. The chairman of the Higher Education Subcommittee stated he gave the university a second chance to submit the necessary information, but the university declined.