The state Senate Judiciary Committee approved an anti-abortion bill Thursday that would subject abortion-providing outpatient clinics to licensing requirements that don’t apply to other out-patient surgery centers.
It would also make it a crime to threaten or coerce a woman into aborting a pregnancy.
There were some tense moments during testimony on the bill. This exchange took place between Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Rick Jones and Renee Chelian, who runs three family planning clinics in metro Detroit. Jones accused Chelian of offering fetal tissue as organ donations.
She responded: “Well, first of all, I find you very insulting..”
Jones: “Isn’t it true that you have a private lab show up at your clinic to harvest parts?”
Chelian: “No! And, sir, you are a liar.”
“You have never taken the time to find out the facts because you are 100 percent wrong. I hope you’re embarrassed and you’ll take that back to whoever gave you that information,” Chelian said.
Jones says his questions were based on information from someone who contacted his office. The senator says he does not know if the information is true or not.
The Senate committee approved the legislation, which could be voted on by the full Senate next month. Jones says the legislation would make abortion services safer for women.
“The purpose is to make sure that clinics are licensed and safe,” he says. “Certainly, a state that licenses junkyards, tattoo parlors, and used car lots would want to license abortion clinics.”
Abortion rights advocates say it’s an effort to put abortion providers out of business. They say
the legislation singles out abortion clinics, and would not cover out-patient surgical facilities that perform other types of procedures such as dental surgery or vasectomies.
The legislation was very contentious when it was debated by the state House. Two female Democrats were punished by House G.O.P. leaders for remarks they made during the debate.