Abortion Bill Signed, BCBS Vetoed

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Governor Snyder signed House Bill 5711. It deals with fetal remains, licensing and inspecting abortion clinics and women being coerced into having an abortion.

"Is there such a thing as being too strict when it talks about women's health? We don't think so," said Ari Adler, the Spokesman for House Speaker Bolger. "We think that if women are going to seek an abortion they should have a sterile environment in which to do that, and that those abortion clinics should be treated like other surgical facilities."

The law requires doctors to screen women to ensure they aren't being forced into an abortion. Opponents say medical professionals shouldn't be cast in the roles of investigators.

"Coercive abortions were already illegal," said Andy Schor, a Democratic State Representative. "Now doctors have to be in essence private investigators. It creates invasive procedures."

"5711 was designed to shut down Planned Parenthood health centers and limit access to abortion and make it virtually inaccessible in Michigan," said Megan Groen who works for Planned Parenthood. "I have to say at the end of the day this legislation will have an impact on access, and we are disappointed that there is a telemedicine ban. That will limit access to abortion care for rural women."

The bill has gone through several changes. Now no existing clinics will be closed, liability insurance will not be requirement and abortion clinics that distribute pills will not have to be licensed as surgical medical centers.

"It was really not about pro-choice verses the right to life. It really is about making sure that women's health is protected. That is if they are having an abortion it is being done in a sterile environment," said Adler. "We would disagree that either of the bills did anything to limit or prohibit abortions in Michigan. That was never our intention with either of those bills. We just wanted to make sure that if someone is having an abortion that it is being done in the right place in a safe and sterile environment."

"When the whole rest of the country looks at us, they see us going backwards because [the Governor] is signing restrictive legislation on women's health," said Schor.

The Governor vetoed Senate Bill 1293, a bill he supported that would turn Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan into a taxpaying, nonprofit. During the lame duck session a provision was inserted into the bill requiring women to pay for additional insurance to cover an abortion -- even in cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.

The Governor would like to see the Blue Cross Blue Shield make that transition, but said that rider "stretched the hand of government too far."

It is likely a new version of the legislation will be presented early in 2013.

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