In an effort almost sure to spark a backlash from pro-choice groups and Democrats, several members of the Republican Caucus of the state House of Representatives — including the entire GOP delegation from west Oakland — are proposing that the state ban abortions after the 20th week of gestation.
The two-bill proposal, sponsored by state Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake, Highland), would create the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and subject someone who performs an abortion to a felony sentence of up to 15 years in prison and/or up to a $7,500 fine.
The legislation states that “substantial medical evidence” concludes that an unborn child is capable of feeling pain 20 weeks after fertilization.
An exemption is carved out in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. However, no such provision exists for cases of rape or incest.
Asked why no such exemption is drafted into the two bills, Kowall said, “I guess the way to look at it is that two wrongs don’t make a right.”
House Bills (HBs) 5343 and 5344 have been referred to the House Health Policy Committee, which is chaired by state Rep. Gail Haines (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield). Although Kowall said she hadn’t had a chance to speak with Haines about the legislation as of last week, she said she hopes to get some movement on the bills in “more like May or June,” after the state budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13 is finalized.
“I’ve always espoused the right-to-life issue,” said state Rep. Bill Rogers (R-Milford), adding that he’s “always struggled” with whether abortions should be banned in cases of rape and incest. He also added that, should such an amendment be slipped into the bill during the legislative process, it would likely still earn his support.
“I think that’s still a step in the right direction,” he said.
“I will probably still be able to support it,” she said. “I obviously want it to come out of committee clean and I would prefer not to have an amendment, but if it needs an amendment, we’ll get it done.”
“This is just another big government, divisive action that does nothing to move Michigan forward,” said state Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield, Commerce, Wolverine Lake). “If my colleagues are truly interested in reducing the number of abortions, I urge my them to work with me to find common ground solutions that will prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place.”
Medical experts at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Commerce Township declined to comment for this story.