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Anti-abortion groups will soon be on sidewalks and at events around the state, asking voters to support ballot measures that would restrict abortion in Michigan.

Groups with ballot measures to restrict abortions in Michigan could be gathering signatures soon. A state board approved the 100-word summaries and forms of their petitions Wednesday. Now the groups just need to get a final stamp of approval before they can start asking Michigan voters for their support.

Michigan Heartbeat Coalition

A Michigan group wants to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. This would effectively ban abortions after around six weeks. The Michigan Heartbeat Coalition filed ballot petition language with the Secretary of State Tuesday.

Today on Stateside, Right to Life of Michigan has a plan to work around Governor Whitmer's promised veto of controversial abortion bills recently passed by the state House and Senate. Plus, we talk to Joshua Johnson of NPR’s 1A, who’s been broadcasting from Michigan Radio this week.

 


Today on Stateside, debate was heated as Republican state lawmakers passed bills banning an abortion procedure known as "dilation and evacuation." Plus, Michigan's next state superintendent talks about what he sees as the most pressing issues facing Michigan schools. 

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The fight over abortion rights has resumed in the state Legislature. A state House committee opened hearings Wednesday on legislation to ban the dilation-and-evacuation abortion procedure.

David Cassleman

Dr. Flora Biancalana, a family practice physician, began prescribing abortion pills when she opened her Traverse City practice 15 years ago. At the end of this month, she is closing her practice, Rising Star Wellness Center. She's the only abortion provider for women in the region. So next month, women will have to drive to Grand Rapids or Marquette to get an abortion.

"Certainly that has become glaringly obvious that abortion services are missing any place north of Saginaw or Bay City," says Lori Carpentier, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

She says Planned Parenthood only found out about the closure a few weeks ago. Its health clinic in Traverse City refers patients seeking an abortion to a list of providers in the state. Dr. Biancalana is one of the referrals on that list. 


Planned Parenthood has been getting some very strong pressure from pro-life supporters, including members of the state Legislature, who want to shut the organization down because it provides abortions.

Or, at the very least, they want to severely restrict Planned Parenthood's funding and operations. 

Bill Marsh Auto Group has withdrawn its support from United Way. The decision was made after company leaders discovered United Way of Northwest Michigan provides funds to Planned Parenthood in Traverse City.

Bill Marsh Jr., a partner of the family-run auto group, says the decision was made based on his family’s values and was in no way an attempt to make a political statement. 

On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – women's reproductive rights remain in the political spotlight.

Let's turn our attention to that subject here in Michigan. It was mid-December when state lawmakers approved a controversial law requiring consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage.

This means a person has to buy a rider before knowing they need an abortion; they would not be able to buy a rider after getting pregnant. And the law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

The law goes into effect in March, and there’s confusion over just how this is supposed to work.

Marianne Udow Phillips is director of The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation at the University of Michigan. She talks to us today and explains what the new law means.

Listen to the full interview above.

Rick Pluta

A campaign is organizing to block the new law that will require people to buy a separate insurance policy for abortion coverage. Wednesday the state Legislature approved the law, which began as a Right to Life of Michigan petition initiative. Voter-initiated laws do not need the governor’s signature and it will take effect next year.

Abortion rights advocates are putting together a coalition to launch a new petition drive. This one would challenge the new law with a referendum on the November 2014 ballot.

The Michigan Legislature has approved a petition initiative that will require people to buy a separate health insurance policy for abortion coverage. The initiative passed with commanding Republican majorities in the House and the Senate. A handful of Democrats also voted yes.

State Representative Amanda Price (R-Holland) said people who object to abortion should not be forced to help pay for it in their insurance premiums.

“No matter how one frames the issue before us, abortion is an individual choice,” she said. “I will say that again: abortion is an individual choice.”

UPDATE 5:23PM: The Michigan House and Senate have approved a veto-proof law that will require consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage. The question was put to the Legislature by a petition drive after Governor Snyder vetoed a similar measure last year because there were no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The new law will take effect early next year.

Paul Maritinez/Flickr

The state Legislature is in its final week of voting before it adjourns for the year. One of the big questions is whether lawmakers will cast votes on a controversial anti-abortion issue this year. A petition drive gathered 300,000 thousand signatures to put the measure before lawmakers. It’s designed to restrict abortion insurance coverage.

A Rare Defiance

This is shaping up as a rare act of defiance by the Legislature, or at least its Republican leaders, when it comes to the anti-abortion lobby.  

This week could bring a vote in the State Legislature that will be closely watched by those on either side of the abortion debate.

The vote would be on a citizen-initiated bill that could end abortion coverage as a standard feature in health insurance policies.

Right-To-Life of Michigan turned in more than 315,000 signatures to get this bill before the Legislature. 

And today, the Board of State Canvassers certified this voter-initiated petition, which sends it on to the state Legislature.

MLive reporter Jonathan Oosting joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

A proposal that would put new restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions is headed to the state Legislature.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on Monday moved forward a proposal that would ban abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. Women would only be able to purchase abortion coverage as a separate rider.

The American Civil Liberties Union has decided to go directly to the source of its unhappiness with the way women are treated in Catholic hospitals. It's suing the nation's Catholic bishops.

A measure to restrict abortion coverage might run into a hurdle in the state Senate. The Republican leader there says he's not yet committed to taking up the measure.

The group Right to Life of Michigan turned in more than 315,000 signatures last week to send the measure to the Legislature. It would ban insurance companies from offering standard health plans that include abortion coverage. Women would have to purchase the coverage as a separate rider.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) says he doesn't consider the proposal a top priority.

Governor Rick Snyder has picked a judge and former Republican candidate for county prosecutor to fill a vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court. Judge David Viviano opposed abortion and same-sex marriage and favored the death penalty during an unsuccessful run for Macomb County prosecutor. He says those questions did not come up during interviews for the job of justice.

Viviano says one of his priorities is to update courts’ technology so the public has easier access to the system.