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Posted on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

Washtenaw County lawmakers sound off as anti-abortion legislation passes out of state House

By Ryan J. Stanton

Democratic lawmakers from Washtenaw County are calling Wednesday's anti-abortion vote in the state House an attack on women and their right to choose.

Meanwhile, Republicans are hailing passage of House Bill 5711 as an effort to better regulate abortion clinics and protect expectant mothers from being forced to have an abortion.

The controversial legislation passed 70-39 and now heads to the Senate for consideration, though it's not expected to be taken up until September.

The bill adds new restrictions and regulations for abortion practices in Michigan, addressing the disposal of fetal remains, prohibiting the use of teleconferences to prescribe abortion medication and making it a crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion.


Jeff Irwin

David_Rutledge_ headshot_2010.jpg

David Rutledge

Republicans call the measures commonsense reforms that are long overdue. Democrats fear they would institute an onerous and bureaucratic licensing and regulatory process, while enacting expensive new fees that could shut down many clinics.

"If Republicans think that Obamacare is socialism and they're decrying the government-directed nature of Obamacare, this is government-directed health care on steroids," said State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D- Ann Arbor. "This is them telling doctors how they can and can't prescribe medication."

Democrats also argued the measures invade the doctor-patient relationship by requiring new screenings to determine if a woman is being coerced and creates a new windfall for insurance companies by requiring doctors to carry $1 million in medical liability insurance.

State Reps. Rick Olson and Mark Ouimet, both Republicans from Washtenaw County, could not be reached for comment.

State Rep. Tom Hooker, R-Byron Center, helped author the legislation. In a statement released on Wednesday, he called it "horrifying" to think that a woman could be coerced into having an abortion at a facility that isn't properly equipped with the resources necessary to perform lifesaving surgery on her if something goes wrong during a procedure.

“Few clinics statewide have ever been inspected or licensed,” Hooker said, noting his legislation requires that abortion clinics are inspected to meet state and federal regulations.

Irwin sees the issue differently, saying the Republicans are trying to frustrate patients by putting a number of barriers in the way.

"They're requiring clinics that perform abortions to get the sort of facility upgrades, inspections and other training and square-footage requirements of a free-standing surgical center," he said.

State Rep. David Rutledge, D-Superior Township, called the bill an attempt to undermine women's reproductive rights by establishing "capricious obstacles" that women and their doctors must overcome before making reproductive health decisions.

Noting the legislation is nearly identical to changes passed in six other states, Rutledge said it seems this is part of a national effort to erode women's right to choose.

"Abortion should be safe, legal and rare," he said. "This change will limit access to safe and legal abortions and could force women without resources into dangerous situations."

Rutledge said Michigan families deserve a government that will work for their best interests, focusing on jobs, the economy and a quality public education system.

"This legislation is not just a politically motivated distraction from those efforts, it's counterproductive and potentially dangerous," he said.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Sat, Jun 16, 2012 : 4:29 a.m.

SEX ON DEMAND : I am reflecting on the statement that asked, "abortion on demand". I am trying to understand the logic and the reasoning that could be applied to justify this statement. How about, "Sex on Demand." Then, a question arises; Whose Demand? Who has the right to demand Sex? Why do we have laws to resist the concept of "Sex on demand?" If Sex on Demand could be illegal or criminal if the parties involved have not given explicit consent to the act of Sex; how could we justify "abortion on demand?" For abortion, we need the consent of three parties; it cannot be the decision of one or two persons.

Matt Cooper

Sun, Jun 17, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

Oh, so now the woman must ask the permisison of two other people to decide what should, or should not happen to her body. Is that wyat you're saying?

E. Manuel Goldstein

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

Abortion should be available on demand. It is a decision made between a woman and her physician, period. Ryan Stanton should continue to call Mark Ouimet for an answer to his inquiry. Voters should know what their representatives positions are on the issues so they can make an informed decision.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

THE ABORTION DEBATE : My view may cause the impression that it is based upon some unknown dogma called 'spirituality'. It is simply related to my interpretation of Human Biology, Anatomy, and Physiology. My intention is not that of elevating Republican leaders to the level of saints. In my understanding, man is always a spiritual being and the choices that we make have to be consistent with our true or real spiritual nature. It does not mean that there are no valid grounds for termination of pregnancy to defend the health and well-being of the mother. The medical conditions which demand such intervention called termination of pregnancy are fully understood.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

It's about time that abortion providers and clinics be subject to the same inspections and licenses as any other doctor and medical/surgical facility. According to Rutledge, abortions should be "safe, legal and rare", but in reality all he and the others who oppose these regulations are concerned about is keeping them legal, because these measures would help to make them safer and rarer, and they doesn't want them.

sandy schopbach

Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 8:36 a.m.

"and creates a new windfall for insurance companies by requiring doctors to carry $1 million in medical liability insurance." Yes, and we all remember how well that ended up in California when it was enacted many decades ago. For those of you who have forgotten or weren't born yet, the result was that no OB-GYNs were to be found because they couldn't afford $1M worth of insurance and women had no one to treat them for any problems of any sort, even not abortion-related. I wish everyone a lot of luck with that plan. And I won't even go into the rest of the Lady Parts Law fiasco that's sweeping the nation and now has been cut-and-pasted into Michigan.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

Stanton is so far to the left - do you know that he actually called the two Republican representatives?


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

Who is going to pay for the new inspections? Is this an unfunded mandate or will there be new taxes?

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

"If Republicans think that Obamacare is socialism and they're decrying the government-directed nature of Obamacare, this is government-directed health care on steroids," Killing babies is not "health care."

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

Did I invoke religion in my statement, or did you assume it? I have no idea what my religion's or my denomination's position is on abortion, nor do I care. It's my position. I realize you don't agree, but if I agreed with you then we'd all be wrong.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Can you describe the criteria that you believe must be met by a zygote to classify it as a baby?


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

What "babies"? BTW, when the bibles were written the authors had no idea of fetal development within the womb. In fact, the most likely concept was that a tiny humanoid form just got bigger until the "miracle" of birth. Or maybe the religious scribes thought that the stomach got gradually bigger until it could accommodate a fully developed baby which then suddenly occupied the stomach at the time of delivery. I can not fault them for misbeliefs because of the absence of scientific knowledge but I can fault those who use their ignorance to force onerous laws regulating gestation.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.

and abortion is not killing "babies" matter how much you try to abuse language in the service of religious fanaticism.

Jimmy McNulty

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

This should not even be a political issue.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

Sure would be neat if our state GOP spent as much time protecting the already born as they do trying to protect zygotes. Imagine if they applied this much effort to helping poor kids get the help they need! How about legislation limiting toxins, to save already born children from asthma, nerve damage and cancer? Nope, that would be "anti-business". How about rules limiting the amount of sugar sold in schools, to keep already born children from getting diabetes? Nope, that would "limit freedom!" Oh well, I guess putting new government restrictions on businesses and individuals is what the GOP has always been about, right? It's all about "job creation". Sounds like this new law is going to create new bureaucrats, another group of people the GOP has lauded over the years.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

Thank you Irwin and Rutledge. Wish you could do more.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

If you are in favor of SAFE and legal abortion, why would you oppose inspecting abortion clinics to make sure they meet the standards of other medical facilities? How is that an attack on women? And studies have shown, many women have abortions under threats and coercion. Typically it's a man who doesn't want to pay child support, and it can get ugly. How is screening for threats and coercion an attack on women? George Orwell saw you folks coming a long way off.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

What about women who are coerced into NOT having an abortion? Where are they addressed in this law if it is about protecting women?

Matt Cooper

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 4 p.m.

1. Because there are many abortion clinics that DO NOT perform any type of surgical abortion, and yet this new law would require them to have or build a surgical suite just like they have in hospitals. Not all abortions are surgical and therefore requiring non-surgical clinics to have or build a surgical suite places undue financial burdens on those clinics. This is nothing more than a conservative attempt to place roadblocks in the way of women's choice. 2. Here's a challenge for you: You claim that "many women have abortions under threats and coercion". Ok, so prove your claim. Show us proof of this coercion. You claim "studies have shown" such coercion. Ok. Cite them. And I don't mean some ridiculous opinion piece written by some idiotic conservative blogger, I mean governmental or university level peer-reviewed literature of studies that show such coercion. I'm betting you won't find any, thereby crippling your own argument. 3. It's laughable to me when conservatives claim those of us that stand up for women's rights are anything close to Orwellian. We're not the ones trying to take away a womans right to decide for herself what happens to her body. We're not the ones trying to get laws passed that make it a crime for a woman to abort a pregnancy created out of a rape. We're not the ones trying to subjugate women on every level we can and claim that 'it's what's best for them'.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 10:17 a.m.

State Reps. Rick Olson and Mark why did you leave out how both of these guys VOTED? We can assume the for for the bill but why on EARTH would you omit that from this story. And, again, the headline is incorrect. "Washtenaw County lawmakers sound off as anti-abortion legislation passes out of state House"? It's Washtenaw County DEMOCRATIC lawmakers--the two non-Democratic are too cowardly to comment.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

See my previous reply...

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 10:12 a.m.

"State Reps. Rick Olson and Mark Ouimet, both Republicans from Washtenaw County, could not be reached for comment." Cowards.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Along the lines of the Wisconsin senators, all Dems, who fled to Illinois during the Wisconsin fiasco, Al?

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 8:51 a.m.

And how will this create jobs? We need jobs! Not this

Michael K.

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:36 a.m.

Tracking the attacks on women across the US. Michigan in the national news:

Michael K.

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:19 a.m.

The War on Women is real. If this goes the way other states have gone, next up is state mandated trans vaginal ultrasounds - invasive procedures mandated by the state that are in no way medically necessary. Of course, these old men know what is best for women! What's best? Well, what they tell them is best of course! Romney and the Catholic Church would both like to make contraception illegal. And forget about equal pay. When they repealed that law in Wisconsin last year, they all agreed: men need the money more than women, because they have families to support! Welcome to the new GOP.


Fri, Jun 15, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

War on women??? Oh please, quit the drama. This measure is to PROTECT women from the money hungry "doctors" that are in the big business of performing abortions. Why should abortion clinics not have to meet the same standards, inspections and licensing as every other health care facility?

Michigan Man

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

MK - I am an old fart solid right wing GOP type. Better learn how to deal with me and the tens of millions others like me. We are strong, active, unafraid and not going anywhere. MK - remember today (6/14/2012) is flag day. Be sure to blow the dust off of your flag that your father and mother bought and fly is proudly.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.

Dude. That was so deep.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 10:41 a.m.

I can't decide if the 'BhavanaJagat' posts are for real or some parody of new age thought.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 2:52 a.m.

Not a funny issue, but you made me LOL


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 2:23 a.m.

BARRIERS TO REPRODUCTIVE CHOICES: I fully support this legislative initiative to place barriers to protect Life. The need for a protective barrier is self-evident; life and existence are practically impossible if there is no protection. Human life starts, grows, and develops only if there is social support and the complete establishment of life proceeds in a protected environment. The issue is not that of imposing sanctions upon the reproductive choices of women. The reality is about the need to defend Life that is Conscious and Intelligent and knows that it exists. There is no choice other than that of keeping a watch while the conscious entity seeks its right to life and freedom.

Matt Cooper

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.

Funny to me, Bhavana, that you prattle on and on about protecting life, and saving lives, and socially supporting life...and use those points to defend a law that says a woman must carry her pregnancy to term even if it could kill her. Or that she would be forced, by force of law, to carry a pregnency to term that is the product of a rape, and if she aborts she would be criminally charged. How can you possibly go on about saving lives and at the same time say to all women everywhere that they must carry the pregnancy to term even if it will KILL THEM? And if they don't they should be jailed? Explain to me how this makes any sense whatsoever. This isn't about saving lives, this is about the ultra-conservative right trying every trick they can to deny a womans right to decide what happens to her body, and to subjugate women and make them slaves to the whimsy of men. Any man who supports this type of legislation should be ashamed of himself.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:12 a.m.

Well, as wrong headed as I feel your ideas may be, unlike the Republican legislators at least you're being honest about it rather than hiding behind transparently faux concerns of patient safety and interests. Of course your position on this issue seem entirely spiritual-based, in a rather esoteric sort of way. Fortunately we have some carefully crafted rules in this country which are designed to prevent one group from forcing rules upon others based solely on their religious or quasi-religious beliefs. Sometimes these safeguards work, though sometimes all it takes is some fancy footwork (or outright lying about intentions or motive as is clearly the case here) to pass religious dogmas in to law veiled as secular and constitutional. Let's just hope this incredibly unnecessary and hypocritical bill doesn't pass the Senate.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 2:12 a.m.

i will remember this in November election!

Basic Bob

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 3:59 a.m.

Unless you live in a predominately Republican district, it won't make a bit of difference.


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

Abortion is safe and LEGAL in Michigan. Michigan citizens wake up our Constitutional rights are being taken away. New voter requirements passed today to stop voter fraud in a state that does not have this problem. VOTER FRAUD IN MICHIGAN IS NOT A PROBLEM. They voted to fast track these laws so they would be in play for the November election. They did not have the required 66 votes in the House to pass it and denied the request by Democratic representatives for a roll call vote. Michigan citizens wake up our Constitutional rights are being taken away. Wake up Michiganders--both Republican and Democrats--when partisan politics rules--and exists to take away citizens rights--ALL MICHIGAN CITIZENS LOSE!


Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 1:32 a.m.

The Republican Party: repealing the 20th Century one vote at a time.