Earlier today, the Michigan Senate voted to pass HB 5711, the anti-choice “super-bill” considered to be one of the most extreme pieces of anti-choice legislation in the country. In one fell swoop, the bill will prohibit the tele-med prescription of medical abortion, enact several new costly and difficult requirements for abortion clinics and providers, and place new barriers between women and abortion by enforcing “coercion screenings” on abortion-seeking women. The House already passed the bill in June; the final, Senate-amended version is now headed back to the House for a final review, and will likely reach Governor Snyder’s desk by the end of the week.
On the Senate floor earlier today, Senator Rebekah Warren—longtime champion of reproductive rights—offered several amendments to the bill, all of which were defeated. Warren argued for the removal of the tele-med ban, pointing out the necessity of tele-medicine access in a state with many rural areas that lack abortion providers.
But many of Warren’s amendments were intended to point out the hypocrisy of the legislation. One amendment would have made it a crime for crisis pregnancy centers to coerce women out of having an abortion, as 5711 aims only to prevent women from being coerced into an abortion. Another amendment stated that men should only be allowed to receive vasectomies in life-threatening situations, and another would have required coercion screenings for vasectomy-seeking men. When Warren proposed that men be subjected to a 24-hour waiting period, cardiac stress test, and rectal exam before receiving treatment for erectile dysfunction, Senator Roger Kahn, a physician and a Republican, added that a penile exam would also be appropriate. Senator Tupac Hunter, a Democrat, stated that the discussion was making him uncomfortable; Hunter later read a bible passage in support of the legislation.
In addition to Warren, Senators Gretchen Whitmer and Coleman Young also spoke out in opposition to the bill, criticizing it for being excessive, extreme, and for creating too many barriers for both women and abortion-providers. But the bill went on to easily pass the Senate by a vote of 27-10.