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Michigan Lawmaker Introduces Bills to Restrict Abortion, Fund Anti-Choice Nonprofits

Nina Liss-Schultz

A Republican Michigan lawmaker this month introduced a series of anti-choice bills, among them a restriction on later abortions and a proposal to publicly fund anti-choice organizations.

A Republican Michigan lawmaker this month introduced a series of anti-choice bills, among them a restriction on later abortions and a proposal to publicly fund anti-choice organizations.

Rep. Thomas Hooker, the primary sponsor of the three bills introduced this month, was in January named chair of the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee. Hooker and his wife “actively volunteer and support the Pregnancy Resource Center and Right to Life,” according to his website. He has co-sponsored a “fetal heartbeat” bill in the Michigan legislature.

HB 4146 would require abortions after 19 weeks be performed only in hospitals with neonatal units, and would require those units work with the provider to establish a protocol for fetuses “born alive” during abortion procedures.

The Michigan legislature in 2002 passed protections for fetuses that “survive” or are “born alive” after abortions, following claims by prominent anti-choice advocate Jill Stanek that a pattern of feticidespecifically, physicians killing fetuses following botched abortions—exists in the United States.

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As Rewire has reported, claims about a pattern of “born alive” infants are unsubstantiated:

Documents provided by state attorneys general to members of the House Judiciary Committee show that there is no national pattern of fetuses ‘surviving’ or being ‘born alive’ after an abortion, much less being killed by health-care providers. That notion is a myth perpetuated by anti-choice extremists as they seek to win public support for measures that would restrict, or even abolish, access to safe abortion care.

A second bill, HB 4140, would create a state-run anti-choice fundraising program. Under the direction of the Michigan secretary of state, “Choose Life” car license plates would be created and sold, and the proceeds would be given to anti-choice nonprofits throughout the state, including homes for pregnant women and crisis pregnancy centers, which use misinformation and intimidation tactics to dissuade women from having abortions.

The money could also be given to organizations for specific anti-choice projects, including media campaigns, “specialty outreach” to populations “at-risk” of seeking an abortion, and “campaigns to promote adoption.”

State-run “Choose Life” license plate programs have spread across the United States. The state attorney general’s office in 2013 awarded $46,100 to anti-choice groups, using the money from “Choose Life” plate sales.

Twenty-eight states allow the production of “Choose Life” plates, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

A third bill introduced by Hooker, HB 4145, would prohibit the allocation of state funds to facilities that provide elective abortion.

The three bills introduced by Hooker this month add to the anti-choice legislation already making its way through the GOP-dominated Michigan legislature. At the beginning of February, state senators proposed legislation to increase abortion physicians’ reporting requirement by adding “allergic reaction” and “anesthesia-related complications” to the list of reasons that a physicians must file a report with the state.

Meanwhile, at least one bill has been introduced that would increase abortion access. SB 63, proposed at the end of January, would repeal Michigan’s Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. The law, passed in 2013, has become known as the “Rape Insurance Act” because it would prohibit private insurance plans from covering abortion in most cases, including rape or incest, forcing people to buy separate insurance riders.

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