Roundup: Michigan Legislates Fetal Remains Based on Anti-Choice Group’s “Discovery”

Robin Marty

An alleged discovery of identifiable fetal remains in Michigan prompts legislation to "respectfully" dispose of materials.

Michigan is considering new rules for how to dispose of products of conception removed during abortion procedures after being contacted by a local anti-abortion group that claimed to have found fetal remains while digging through a dumpster outside a clinic they were protesting. 

Via The State News:

A state representative is calling for abortion reform in Michigan following the alleged discovery of 17 aborted fetuses in a Lansing abortion clinic’s dumpster. A spokesman from the local police department, however, said investigators discovered biomedical waste and patient medical records in the dumpster, but no fetuses were found.

During a press conference held Wednesday at the Capitol to address the issue, state Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, announced a bill that would require clinics to bury or cremate aborted fetuses if the parent requests it. Violators of the bill would face felony charges and a maximum of three years in jail, or a fine of up to $5,000.

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Jones, who represents the district where the fetuses were allegedly found, was contacted by Citizens for a Pro-Life Society and Chris Veneklase, a Michigan resident who said he found the fetuses. Veneklase was protesting outside WomansChoice/Health Care Clinic, 6500 Centurion Dr., in Lansing, when he noticed its use of a commercial dumpster. In February, he looked inside one of the garbage bags.

Citizens for a Pro-Life Society helped Veneklase continue to search through the dumpster and allegedly discovered more biomedical waste and medical records. Veneklase and the organization then reported the incident. The WomansChoice/Health Care Clinic declined to comment Wednesday.

According to a news report from News Channel 8, random searches were made over the following months by police, but no signs of actual remains were ever found, only discarded tissue.

“They did random searches over several months, and found medical waste and tissue inside that dumpster, but no fetuses.”

No matter the lack of evidence, anti-choice lawmakers are now using their claims to push for a law that will require all clinics to cremate or bury the products of conception. Some lawmakers have begun to draft one, but none of them seem concerned about offering legislation to deal with violations of medical privacy if in fact personal records were disposed in trash bags, as the anti-choice activists claim.

From WLIX:

        The bags were labeled in detail.

“17 bags that contained the bodies of these aborted children with the mother’s names on the bags thrown into the trash dumpster,” said [Director of the Citizens for a Pro-Life Society Monica] Migliorino Miller.

Dates of the abortion and even medication that was given to the woman was included. The public display of private patient information is an issue that the Attorney General’s office investigated.

Joy Yearout, the deputy communications director for the Attorney General’s office said in a statement on Wednesday: “The Eaton County prosecutor and the Michigan Attorney General’s office found that the few documents uncovered in our investigation are not of the nature that would be criminally charged under the state medial records statute.”

It seems unlikely that the AG’s office would see no violations in such an obvious breach of HIPAA law, an omission that makes the story that there were private medical records in the bags much more suspect.  However, if the legislators are going to actively legislate how to dispose of remains out of “respect” for the fetus, it would be nice if they showed at least some interest in respecting the right to privacy of the woman involved as well. 

Mini Roundup: The anti-choice double standard — judges overruling parents who want their daughters to continue their pregnancies are wrong.  Judges who overrule parents who want their daughters to have abortions are right.

October 28, 2010

October 27, 2010

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