The Michigan House, divided mostly along party lines, passed new regulations for abortion providers June 13.
The legislation requires more malpractice insurance for any providers who've lost two lawsuits, regulates the disposal of fetal remains, requires that abortion clinics be licensed as surgical centers and prohibits doctors from prescribing the RU-486 abortion pill over the Internet.
Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, voted for the legislation, saying it was a vote for women's health.
"Far from being 'right-wing,' this legislation was approved by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including six Democrats. No matter where you stand on the abortion issue, you'd hope everyone could agree that women who do decide to have an abortion should be able to do so in a safe environment," Ouimet said. "I voted 'yes' on this legislation because it protects women by requiring that abortion facilities meet state and federal standard regulations. We should all strive to provide a safe environment for any medical facility, and it makes sense that all abortion clinics get licensed and inspected as outpatient surgical facilities."
Ouimet's Democratic opponent for the 52nd District, Gretchen Driskell, issued a statement Thursday criticizing the legislation, saying House Bill 5711 is intended to shut down clinics by requiring "onerous" licensing and regulations and "expensive" new fees.
“As the mother of three wonderful children, I have deep concerns about the Republicans’ plan to take important health care decisions away from Michigan women and their doctors and dictate to physicians how to practice medicine,” Driskell said. “In 2010, Mark Ouimet told a reporter he wasn’t interested in changing Roe v. Wade and was more focused on creating jobs. Now Rep. Ouimet and his right-wing partners in Lansing are distracting voters from their record of raising taxes on seniors, squeezing middle-class families and eliminating $1 billion from our kids’ schools.
"He needs to explain this vote and why he thinks the Michigan House should be spending its time on divisive issues instead of working to create jobs or making it easier for middle-class families to get by — like he campaigned to do in 2010."
Driskell said the legislation will also require screenings to determine if a woman seeking an abortion is being coerced, which she said will invade the doctor/patient relationship. She said a measure forcing doctors to carry another $1 million in medical liability insurance is designed to create hurdles for clinics.
“It’s clear that Rep. Ouimet and Lansing Republicans are now following the agenda of extremist special interest groups at the expense of a woman’s health,” Driskell said.
The bill passed 70-39, with six pro-life Democrats joining the 64 Republicans in the House. The legislation now moves to the Senate.
House Republicans did not vote on two other abortion bills, including one bill that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks.