The Michigan Senate passed its version of a controversial abortion bill on Wednesday that would regulate abortion clinics as surgical centers, require doctors to screen women for coercion before providing them abortions and restrict the use of telemedicine to prescribe abortion medication. The "super-bill," passed by a Senate vote of 27 to 10 after the state House of Representatives passed its version last week, is likely to drastically limit women's access to abortion in Michigan.
House Bill 5711 has been the subject of heated protests since it was first introduced in June. Republican supporters of the bill argue that it protects women's health, while Democrats and reproductive-rights advocates charge that it simply aims to restrict women's reproductive freedom.
The bill imposes strict building regulations on abortion clinics, such as specific square-footage minimums and hallway widths, which could prevent many clinics from being able to legally operate without costly and extensive renovations. It also bans the use of telemedicine to prescribe medication abortions, though it is often the only alternative for many women in rural and medically under-served areas of the state.
A third provision of the bill requires doctors to ask women probing questions to ensure they haven't been forced to choose abortion.
The House will now review the final version of the bill before sending it to Gov. Rick Snyder (R), who is expected to sign.
"Michigan's public officials were elected to stand up for women's health and rights, not to trample them," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "We strongly urge Governor Snyder to reject this attack on women's constitutionally-protected rights."