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State House Passes ‘Partial-Birth’ Abortion Ban

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) - The Republican-led Michigan Legislature is working to pass a state-level ban on a procedure that opponents call “partial-birth” abortion.

A proposal to put the ban in state law passed the House Wednesday afternoon, after passing in the Senate earlier in the day. The legislation, with a few tweaks, will now go back to the Senate for approval.

“Conservative Republicans have been waiting patiently to move on their social agenda, and now they are,” said WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick.

“Under this legislation … medical professional performing this procedure could face up to a $50,000 fine and two years in prison,” Skubick said. “This was a Right to Life-sponsored piece of legislation. There were two democrats who voted no.”

Doctors would not be in violation of the new law if they believed the procedure was necessary to save the life of a mother.

“There is no place for partial-birth abortions in our society,” said Walsh, R-Livonia. “This legislation protects life, but also includes safeguards to protect the life of the mother if her life is in peril.”

A similar federal ban on the late-term procedure was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007.

Critics of the Michigan plan say that makes the state proposal redundant.

Executive Director Renee Chelian of Northland Family Planning Centers calls the bill a “waste of taxpayer dollars.”

“There’s no such thing as partial-birth abortions … Doctors who provide second trimester abortions have been following the federal ban,” said Chelian. “The reason that they want to pass this in the state is that perhaps there can be a witch hunt against doctors by some state or county or city prosecutor,” she said.

Supporters, including Right to Life lobbyist Ed Rivett, say a state ban would be needed to better prosecute potential cases within Michigan.

“There are limited resources that federal district prosecutors have and, you know, they’re busy with cases like terrorism and drug dealers and things like that, international-type cases,” Rivet said. “So, they just don’t have the resources to take a single case like this. So, this will allow the Attorney General or even a local prosecutor to enforce the law.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has also expressed his support for the bill.

“Today’s passage of a state ban on the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion marks the end of a long battle to provide more protections for the unborn. As a result, state and local law enforcement will soon be empowered to take action against this gruesome procedure, instead of waiting for the federal government. I congratulate the legislature for their work on this issue,” he said in a statement.

Michigan lawmakers have tried to enact a state-level ban on the procedure multiple times without success because of vetoes from then-Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and court rulings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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