Informed Consent for Abortion
S.B. 384 of 1993
Effective Date: September 15, 1999
This law requires abortionists to give women information about what abortion procedure they will have, the name of the doctor, line drawings of the gestational age of their unborn baby, other options to abortion like adoption, and at least one day to review the material (24-hour waiting period).A physician must also confirm the woman's pregnancy, provide a written summary describing abortion, risks, alternatives, and risks of full term pregnancy. A woman must give written consent and be informed of her right to withhold or withdraw consent. The physician must provide the woman with a copy of the signed consent form.The law was signed by the Governor in 1993, but held up in the Michigan courts by abortion clinic owners until September 15, 1999 when the law went into effect.
Informed Consent Revision
H.B. 5548 of 2000
This bill prohibits abortion clinics from using their own websites as a means of complying with the informed consent law. Several abortion clinics were using their own websites to give their clients scientifically inaccurate information in regards to the development of their fetus. The bill directs the Department of Community Health to create a website that enables women to access the information via the Internet to ensure the information is accurate. The webpage will be anonymous, but will have a confirmation slip women will print off to show their doctor they have seen the information. The required information can also be transmitted via facsimile or registered mail.See Also Abortion Prepayment
A Woman's Right to Know -- Informed Consent
The Informed Consent law took effect on September 15, 1999 after a 5-1/2 year court battle. Within months evidence began mounting that abortion clinics were doing all they could to avoid following the spirit and intent of the law. The court settlement allows women to receive the required written information 24 hours in advance by means of "electronic transmission." Abortion clinics subsequently set up Internet websites, telling women they only need to click on the website to comply with the informed consent law. These websites offered no mechanism to ensure that the women actually received the required information. Also, some of the websites contained blatant misrepresentations such as grossly inaccurate fetal development pictures.Furthermore, some clinics began requiring "down payments" to make an abortion appointment when women would come to the clinic to receive the required written materials.On April 11, 2000, Representative Janet Kukuk introduced House Bill 5548, prohibiting abortion clinics from using their own websites as a means of complying with the informed consent law. The bill directs the Department of Community Health to create a website that enables women to access the information via the Internet. This will ensure that the information received by the women is accurate. The webpage will be anonymous, but will have a confirmation slip women will print off to show their doctor they have seen the information. The required information can also be transmitted via facsimile. The bill prohibits clinics from charging a down payment prior to the 24-hour waiting period expiring.The House of Representatives considered the bill in the spring of 2000 and gave final approval to the bill on May 30, 2000 by a vote of 67-39. The Senate considered the bill in the fall, and gave approval to the bill on November 30, 2000 by a vote of 24-10. Governor Engler signed the bill on December 31, 2000. The law will take effect on March 27, 2001, giving the Department of Community Health time to activate its official informed consent website.
Two companion bills were introduced in the Michigan House and Senate on February 11, 1993, which would foster the right of pregnant women to make an informed decision about abortion. As S.B. 141 did in the 1991 - 92 session, S.B. 384/H.B. 4260 would require that prior to an abortion women receive information about the risks of, and alternatives to, abortion. Women would also receive information on prenatal development and be given 24 hours to review all the information before having the abortion.
The Michigan Legislature dealt with similar legislation in the 1991-92 session. S.B. 141 (S-2) was passed by the Senate on May 29, 1991. The bill lay dormant in the House Public Health Committee for nearly nine months. After language identical to S.B. 141 was attached by the Senate to H.B. 4280 and returned to the House, hearings on S.B. 141 were held. The House took up the bill on March 5, 1992. A substitute bill (H-4) was adopted on the floor with the minimum 55 votes needed (due to a vacant seat). The bill was then passed.The Senate rejected the House version, sending the bill to a joint House - Senate conference committee. After numerous conference committee meetings failed to produce a compromise version, the bill died at the end of the session. Laws similar to that proposed in S.B. 141 had been passed in other states in the early 1980s, but were struck down as unconstitutional by the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its June 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruling, overturned those previous court decisions and upheld a Pennsylvania informed consent law. S.B. 384 was directly modeled after the Pennsylvania law. In the Casey decision, the Supreme Court stated that states can require physicians to provide information on risks, alternatives, prenatal development, and establish a mandatory waiting period. While the law was found to require accurate, objective information, the Court went further in noting that "a State is permitted to enact persuasive measures which favor childbirth over abortion, even if those measures do not further a health interest." (Casey v. Planned Parenthood, p.44) Later in 1992 the Supreme Court also affirmed Mississippi's informed consent law by declining to hear a challenge to that statute.