Traverse City Record-Eagle


March 31, 2013

Abortion clinics will need license and check for coercion


LANSING (AP) — Michigan abortion clinics will need a state license and must check to make sure women are not being bullied or pressured into getting an abortion under a new law taking effect today.

Other regulations make clearer the proper disposal of fetal remains, after anti-abortion advocates expressed concern some were not disposed of with dignity.

A more contentious call to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy was dropped from the legislation last year and never went further than the floor of the GOP-controlled House.

Of Michigan’s 32 clinics that offer surgical abortions, four have licenses. The state estimates 16 more abortion providers need to be licensed as freestanding outpatient surgical facilities under the law because they perform at least 120 abortions a year. Licensure brings annual inspections and a $238 yearly fee, though facilities can avoid licensure if they stop publicly advertising abortion services.

Existing abortion providers also can seek waivers from construction or equipment upgrades mandated for outpatient offices.

“The licensing requirements are reasonable enough that we can accommodate them,” said Lori Lamerand, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan.

Of the four Planned Parenthood locations doing abortions, two already were licensed. One does not need a license because it only offers the abortion pill. The organization will apply for a license for its Flint office this week, she said.

One issue is whether the state has enough money to do licensing and annual inspections. While the Legislature allocated more funding to inspect all outpatient facilities, it is only enough to do them once every three years — not yearly — according to the House Fiscal Agency.

Lamerand said the concern that many abortion clinics are not licensed is a “sound bite that made a lot of people crazy,” but unlicensed abortion providers are providing top-notch care.

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