Today three bills (HB 5711-5713) were rushed through the Health Policy Committee and will be on the floor of the House of Representatives as early as this evening. These bills represent a broad attack on women’s rights and access to reproductive health services.
In general, the bills set up impossible or nearly impossible hurdles for providers – especially smaller clinics. HB 5711 (Rendon), HB 5712 (Franz), HB 5713 (Shaughnessy) propose sweeping restrictions seeking to shut down all providers. Here are some of the key provisions:
• 20 Week Ban: Bans all abortions at 20 weeks and does NOT include a health exemption for the mother. Does NOT include exemptions for rape, incest, or fetal anomaly, and has a limited medical emergency exemption. Also, the bill establishes that the Michigan legislature asserts that fetuses feel pain; • Remains of a fetus eight weeks gestation or more resulting from an abortion would be required to be disposed of in the same manner as other dead bodies: burial, cremation or interment. This is another simple way for the GOP to frustrate providers and add costs to these services; • Creates unnecessary and burdensome licensing requirements for health centers that perform abortions: Eliminates the current exemption for health centers that perform primarily family planning services thereby subjecting smaller clinics to regulations meant for hospitals;
• Off-Label Prohibition: Prohibits the use of industry-recognized safe and common medication abortion practices. In plain terms, this will prevent doctors from prescribing medicine according to best practices as they do now. Currently, doctors might prescribe a mix of abortion medications because that mix has proven to be most effective, with the minimal side effects. These bills would prevent using the medication in a way not directed on the label;
• Telemedicine Ban: Prohibits the use of telemedicine to provide women with medication abortion services. These bills will prevent women in rural areas from access to emergency contraception if the medication is directed by a physician over the phone or internet;
• Liability Insurance: Requires physicians carry a minimum of $1 million in liability coverage if they perform five or more abortions per month and have been subject to two or more civil suits in the past seven years or have been found noncompliant with health and safety requirements or has received sanctions. Providers assert that this sort of coverage is not available.
“These bills are designed to placate the most extreme members of the Michigan Republican party. When one party controls every element of the government, the most extreme elements of that party control the agenda,” remarked Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor). “These bills – which seek to end access to reproductive rights – are a prime example of that extremist agenda.”
By increasing costs for providers, threatening doctors and preventing emergency contraception from being prescribed, Michigan Republicans are waging a war on women’s rights and attempting to regulate health care providers out of business.