A Republican-led state House committee has approved a sweeping new set of restrictions and requirements on abortion providers and women who want to end their pregnancies. The action by the House Health Policy Committee brought an angry Rachel Foster Lifson to her feet as the retired college professor from Mount Pleasant demanded -- over the din of the crowd – the right to speak.
“My body! My decision! Thank you,” Lifson said. Applause followed.
The new requirements cover clinic inspections, disposing of fetal remains and restricting when a woman may terminate a pregnancy. Abortion rights advocates – like Renee Chelian of Northland Family Planning Centers -- say the bills’ backers have one motive.
“They only want to ban abortion and make [it] illegal and un-accessible in the state of Michigan,” Chelian said.
Abortion providers say the regulations would force some of them to shut down and make it harder for women to access reproductive services. Lori Lamerand is the president of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, and said, “the point about this is everything they are trying to do here is with one goal in mind and that is try to stop abortions from being available. Period. End of story.”
The measures are backed by the Catholic Church and the anti-abortion group Right to Life. Ed Rivet of Right to Life says critics are misrepresenting their motives. He says the purpose is to ensure women have safe facilities.
“Every time we’ve done this either women are going to die, or they’re going to be denied access to abortion and neither of those is true. Those threats are always veiled, empty threats that never come true. The fact that 28 out of 32 abortion clinics in Michigan are not inspected or licensed is a fact,” Rivet said.
Abortion providers say abortion clinics are not inspected, but neither are surgical facilities that perform riskier operations than terminating pregnancies.