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Feminist News


June-11-04

MI Legislature Threatens Abortion In All Terms

Bolstered by signatures gathered by religious and anti-abortion groups, the Michigan legislature voted yesterday to override Governor Jennifer Granholm's (D) veto of a Legal Birth Definition Act (LBDA) that would define birth from the moment any part of a "living" fetus was outside a woman's body. The act defines fetus life as exhibiting just one of the following: "a detectable heartbeat; evidence of breathing; evidence of spontaneous movement; or umbilical cord pulsation." Such a specious definition of a live, legally protected person could potentially criminalize even first-trimester abortions. Fetuses can exhibit some or all of those signs as early as 8-10 weeks into the pregnancy. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss said in a press release: "This attempt to eliminate abortions in all stages of pregnancy... remains unconstitutional. Medical decisions should still only be made by a woman in consult with her physician."

While the act incorporates a provision for a woman's bodily health, the act only allows a doctor to assist a woman if she is miscarrying or if the danger to her health is "imminent." The act makes no provisions for a woman's mental health or potential threats to her health.

Anti-abortion groups collected 191,000 more signatures than the 254,206 petition signatures needed, according to the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report. Even though the text of the LBDA itself refrains from even mentioning procedures similar to those described in the late-term abortion procedures ban, the proponents of the LBDA used graphic descriptions of what they called "partial birth" abortion procedures during the heated debate over the issue, even though there is no such medical term, the Detroit Free Press reported. The LBDA was approved Wednesday morning by a state Senate margin of 23-12 and a House vote of 74-28. The bill will become effective March 2005 if a court order does not intercede.

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Media Resources: ACLU Press Release 6/9/04; Detroit Free Press 6/3/04, 6/10/04; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 6/10/04; Feminist Daily News Wire 1/30/04, 6/7/04; Michigan Senate Bill No. 395