In Michigan, Republican State House Representative Bruce Rendon has introduced an anti-abortion “super bill”—one piece of legislation that includes protocol for screening women for coercion prior to an abortion, along with several TRAP laws including new liability insurance requirements for abortion providers, the regulation of abortion clinics as surgical facilities, and new restrictions on the disposal of fetal remains. The bill would also require the presence of a physician for medication abortion — a particularly damaging regulation in a state where 82 percent of counties have no abortion provider, and many women in rural areas rely on the safe and effective tele-med prescription of medical abortion.
Each of these new restrictions has already been proposed in a separate bill in the Michigan House and Senate; the hypocritical “anti-coercion” legislation, for example, has already passed through the House and is now awaiting a Senate vote. And a bill that would create new regulations on the disposal of fetal remains has been criticized for the potential trauma it would cause for women experiencing miscarriage. But Rendon’s HB 5711 is the first bill in the state to roll so many abortion restrictions into one package, threatening to create in one fell swoop serious barriers for both women in need of abortion care and abortion providers. Packaged with the bill, HB 5713 sets forth sentencing guidelines for violations of the new regulations, and also includes a prohibition on all abortions after 20 weeks in all cases except when it is necessary to save a life.
Additionally troubling is the speed at which HB 5711 appears to be moving through the legislative process. Many of Michigan’s anti-choice bills have languished for months without being brought before a committee; the Senate bill regarding the disposal of fetal remains was assigned to the committee on health policy back in October of 2011, a bill prohibiting the tele-med prescription of medical abortion has been awaiting an appearance before the same committee since last June. But HB 5711 was introduced on May 31st – ironically, and perhaps not coincidentally, the anniversary of Dr. Tiller’s assassination — and is already scheduled to be discussed by the House committee on health policy on Thursday, June 7th. It is likely that the Republican-majority committee will recommend the bill favorably, and that it will be rapidly headed for a House vote.