Friday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law House Bill 5711, imposing new restrictions on abortion clinics and doctors which further tighten abortion regulation in the state. The bill requires clinics that perform more than 120 abortions a year be licensed and screening patients to ensure they aren't being forced into the abortion. The bill also includes an outline for the disposal of fetal remains and prohibits "telemedicine," such as a webcam consultation with another doctor.
While the bill remained in the shadows due to the outcry over Michigan's "right to work" legislation, it has still faced heavy opposition. The Michigan Democratic Party sent out an e-mail calling the legislation "Snyder's War on Women." Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan released a statement criticizing the bill, claiming:
HB 5711 creates unnecessary, burdensome, and costly licensing requirements for women's health centers and will reduce access to comprehensive care for women in rural areas via a telemedicine ban... These politically motivated regulations will make it more difficult for health centers to provide high-quality health care and only make it harder for women and couples to access critical reproductive health care services, including lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception, STD prevention and treatment, and continued access to safe and compassionate abortion care.
However, in an interview with The Detroit News, the pro-life Gov. Snyder stood behind the law. "To be screened for coercion is a reasonable thing," Snyder stated. "It is really a question of women's health and safety." The Michigan Catholic Conference also joined in support for the law, writing in a press release:
“Licensing and inspecting abortion clinics for health and safety standards will serve to better protect those women who, regrettably, choose the path of abortion,” said Rebecca Mastee, J.D., Michigan Catholic Conference Policy Advocate. “Michigan Catholic Conference applauds Governor Snyder for signing House Bill 5711 into law and extends its appreciation for the governor's effort to prioritize women’s health and safety. Despite the partisan campaign rhetoric and theatrics that accompanied House Bill 5711 through its legislative journey, good public policy that promotes the dignity of women has proven to be the winner.”
The law's success comes during the closing of a lame duck session, and may not have passed after the new congressional period began.