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State House floor is the next stop for a pair of anti-abortion bills

Inside the doctor's office.
Jennifer Morrow

Legislation to ban a second-trimester abortion procedure is on its way to the full Michigan state House.

Tuesday, on a largely party-line vote, the House Judiciary committee approved two bills (HB 4320 & HB 4321) banning the medical procedure dilation and evacuation, also known as D&E.

D&E is the most frequently used abortion procedure during the second trimester.

Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township) describes the procedure, which she calls “dismemberment abortion,"  as “barbaric.”

“This method is not recognized as humane in any culture, yet it has become commonplace in Michigan and across the United States,” says Hornberger.

If the bills were to become law, doctors who perform the procedure could be charged with a two-year felony. There would be an exception in cases where the life of the mother is at risk.

Opponents of the legislation say D&E is safer for the woman and has fewer complications than other abortion procedures.

In 2017,  1,777 D&E abortions were performed in the state of Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.   

Amanda West, with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, says the reasons cited to support the D&E abortion ban bills are ”lies.”

“They are bills that are part of an orchestrated national strategy by anti-abortion politicians to restrict abortion,” says West.  

Similar legislation passed in other states has run into obstacles in the federal courts.

The Republican-led legislature is expected to approve the bills.  

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she will use her veto power it reaches her desk. It does not appear the bill’s supporters have enough support to override the expected veto.

With the governor’s veto pledge hanging over the bills, it’s unclear what the strategy backers of the ban plan to follow. 

In 2013, anti-abortion groups used an initiative petitionto push a law through the state legislature to prevent health insurance plans from including coverage for abortions. Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation the year before. Using the initiative petition route, anti-abortion groups were able to circumvent the governor. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.