LANSING (WWJ/AP) – It’s the legislation that prompted Michigan’s “vagina controversy.”
The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate has passed a package of bills that would restrict and regulate abortion practices including requiring a health professional to screen patients to ensure they aren’t being forced to end pregnancies.
The measures previously passed by the GOP-led House were approved Wednesday by a 27-10 vote.
The bill package also enacts regulations related to the disposal of fetal remains. It additionally requires private medical offices to be licensed as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities if they perform at least 120 abortions annually and undergo annual state inspections.
Michigan Catholic Conference spokesman Dave Maluchnik told WWJ Newsradio 950 bill crossed party lines.
“The support has been very strong in the legislature. We saw bi-partisan support in the House of Representatives, and, when the bill passed the Senate, Democrats voted along with Republicans to support House Bill 5711.
Supporters say they are commonsense, overdue reforms that keep women safe.
Critics say the rules are confusing, contradictory and designed to restrict women’s reproductive freedom. This includes, the President of Southeast Michigan’s Planned Parenthood, Lori Lamerand, who believes the bill is disingenuous.
“Ultimately, this doesn’t have anything to do with what they’re saying it has to do with,” said Lamerand. “It all has to do with limiting access to abortion services — which we may remind folks are actually legal.”
Earlier this year, two Democratic lawmakers were disciplined by Republican leaders for saying “vagina” and “vasectomy” while discussing the legislation on the House floor. Senate Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer denounced the censorship as part of what she called the GOP’s “war on women.”
The legislation now returns to the House for its final review before going to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
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