Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

December 15, 2012

Legislature OKs new restrictions on abortions

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Legislature gave final approval early Friday to a set of abortion regulations that supporters described as protecting women but opponents denounced as a backdoor assault on the right to terminate pregnancy.

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the measure, which cleared the House on a 72-35 vote after gaining Senate backing earlier this week.

It requires facilities where at least 120 abortions are performed annually to obtain a state license as a freestanding outpatient surgical facility. The step would mean further inspections and higher costs for the clinics, in some cases requiring them to renovate their buildings.

Patients would have to undergo counseling with a health professional to make sure they aren't being forced to get an abortion. But a provision was dropped that would have established penalties for so-called "coercive" abortions.

Other provisions deal with disposal of fetal remains and require that a doctor perform a physical exam before prescribing drugs that would induce abortion. The exam could not be performed from a distance through use of a web-based camera, a process known as telemedicine, which critics said would impose a hardship on women in rural areas.

"We must make sure that abortion clinics are safe, until we can end the scourge of abortion," said Rep. Thomas Hooker, a Republican from Byron Center.

Democrats offered a flurry of amendments that were swiftly rejected, some of which had also failed in the Senate. One would have required physical examinations for men seeking a vasectomy or medication for erectile dysfunction.

"I truly respect those who believe that abortion is wrong, but I ask the same in return for those who believe that there are circumstances where abortion is the least bad option," said Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright, a Democrat from Muskegon.

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