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This Status Report Archive is current through the May 2014 Status Report.

STATE LEGISLATION

Abortion Insurance Opt Out: Sen. Mark Jansen has introduced SB 137-139 and Rep. Mike Shirkey has introduced HB 4065-4066, to eliminate “built-in” abortion coverage from all health care plans offered in Michigan. Rep. Amanda Price will introduce a third House bill to match SB 139. These matching sets of bills insure that health plans offered on federal exchanges required under ObamaCare and offered in the private insurance market will only provide coverage for abortion if an optional rider is purchased. The third bill in each package provides penalties for any sort of fraudulent billing to insurance plans by abortionists. Both sets of bills have been referred to their respective chamber's Insurance Committee.

This legislation was inserted into another insurance bill (Blue Cross reform) at the end of the 2012 session, but was vetoed by Gov. Snyder. He claimed that it was an unwarranted intrusion on the private market side, and he prefers there be funding for abortions in cases of rape and incest. A full engagement with legislators and the governor is underway to see this legislation advance swiftly in the new session. With ObamaCare exchanges scheduled to be available by this October, action on this package must be prompt.

Despite an intense negotiating effort by House prolife legislators, led by Speaker Jase Bolger, an agreement to put an Abortion Opt Out provision into a new version of of the Blue Cross reform legislation could not be reached with Gov. Snyder. Hence, the Blue Cross bills were passed absent the Opt Out provision and signed by Gov. Snyder on 03/19/13.

After months of efforts to come to terms with Gov. Sndyer on Opt Out legislation that both he and RLM could support, RLM decided to move forward to enact the Opt Out law by using the citizen initiative petition process. A petition to enact the law was approved by the State Board of Canvassers on 05/22/12, and official circulation of petition began on 06/03/13.

Religious Liberty & Conscience Protection Act: Sen. John Moolenaar reintroduced the Religious Liberty & Conscience Protection Act as SB 136 on 2/5/13, which was referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee. The bill would protect rights of religious liberty and conscience in three general health care areas: Purchasers and sellers of health plans could not be required to buy or offer benefits that violate their religious beliefs; health facilities could not be forced to perform procedures against their beliefs, and individual health care providers could not suffer job discrimination for refusing to participate in an objectionable procedure.

Testimony hearings on SB 136 were held on 3/7/13 and 3/14/13, with the committee voting to report the bill to the full Senate on 3/21/13 by a 5-1 vote. With SB 136 now pending on the Senate floor, bill sponsor Sen. John Moolenaar is pressing for a vote to be taken. Senate leadership has not indicated exactly when that vote may occur.

Coercive Abortion Prevention Act: House Bills 4598-4599 were introduced by Reps. Amanda Price and Nancy Jenkins on 4/18/13 and referred to the House Criminal Justice Committee. Like numerous versions of this legislation introduced in past sessions, the CAPA bills define efforts to coerce a woman to have an abortion as a crime. No time frame has been established for when bills will be taken up by the committee.

Identical bills were nearly completed at the end of the 2012 session. But they were tabled at the request of Gov. Snyder because he had not reviewed them adequately by the very last day of the session, when the bills were a single floor vote away from final passage. The “Prolife Bus” bill that was enacted in late 2012 requires abortion clinics to screen women for coercion to abort. But that process is being delayed because the legal definition for coercion is found in the CAPA bills that were tabled. Thus, passage of H.B. 4598-99 is a necessity in this session to have screening requirement implemented.

Medical Good Faith Provisions Act: Sen. Jim Marleau introduced SB 165 on 2/7/13 which would require any medical facility with a “futile care” policy, to inform patients or parents of minor children about the policy in writing. Futile care policies have been emerging as a means of denying treatment to severely disabled or injured patients on the basis that the treatment is futile and thus wasteful. Given that there is no standard meaning of what “futile” means, such policies and determinations could readily become discriminatory against vulnerable newborns, brain-injured patients and the elderly. The bill was referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee, which Sen. Marleau chairs.

Testimony was taken on SB 165 on 3/7/13, with no opposition registered to the bill. The Senate Health Policy Committee adopted and passed an amended version of the bill by a 7-0 vote on 3/14/13. The Senate voted unanimously (36-0) on 4/9/13 to approve SB 165. The bill was referred to the House Health Policy Committee.

The House Health Policy Committee unanimously reported a slightly amended version of S.B. 165 on 05/14/13. The Michigan House of Representatives unanimously approved it (108-0) on May 22, 2013. Because of the changes made by the House, the Senate concurred in the House version on May 29, 2013, by a 36-0 vote. The bill was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on 06/11/13 and became Public Act 57 of 2013. The law was immediately hailed by National Right to Life as the beginning of what the entire prolife movement must be prepared to do in response to health care rationing pressures that will result should Obamacare become entrenched in the long term.

Ultrasound Viewing Update: Rep. Joel Johnson introduced HB 4187 on 2/5/13, which was referred to the House Health Policy Committee. The bill was designed to address the problem of abortion clinics using outdated ultrasound machines to show women poor quality images of their babies as part of the Informed Consent law while using much newer machines to conduct the actual abortion. It also requires that an ultrasound be performed at least 2 hours prior to an abortion and before any pre-operative medications are given to the woman.

A wave of false media reports came out with HB 4187's introduction claiming that the bill would require all women to receive a transvaginal ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion. The bill does not require such an ultrasound., as has been made clear by statements from the sponsor, Speaker of the House and RLM.

Late Term Abortion Hospital Requirement: HB 4161 was introduced by Rep. Hooker on 1/31/13 and referred to the Health Policy Committee. The bill would require that any abortion past 19 weeks of gestation be performed in a hospital with a neonatal unit, and that a protocol be established in advance for implementing the Born Alive Infant Protection Act should the child survive the abortion.

Parental Consent Judge Shopping: S.B. 254 was introduced on March 12, 2013, by Sen. Dave Robertston and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill addresses deficiencies in the “judicial bypass” procedures that a pregnant minor may access under the parental consent law to obtain a waiver from the consent requirement. The legislation has been introduced and considered for a decade, being first passed by the Legislature and vetoed by then-Governor Jennifer Granholm in her first term. With less than 24 hours notice, the Senate Judiciary Committee took up S.B. 254 on 06/18/13. There was only a brief amount of testimony before the committee voted 3-1 to report the bill to the full Senate. This same committee approved the bill last session. With the Legislature in recess for the summer no action is expected until at least the fall.

University Embryo Research Reporting: The 2012 “Higher Education” budget providing funding to public universities, a provision was added requiring universities performing embryonic stem cell research to provide a report to the legislature by 12/1/12. The University of Michigan is the only university conducting destructive research on human embryos. It has yet to submit a report more than two months past the deadline. Legislators have begun addressing the 2013 budget and inquiries as to the lack of reporting are forthcoming.

The University of Michigan submitted its required report regarding their embryonic stem cell research. The report showed that U-M has created 10 embryonic stem cell lines and submitted them all for approval on the National Institutes of Health's registry. The final 2 of the 10 lines were submitted in May 2012. No additional cell lines have been created or submitted from May to December 2012.

The annual budget bill providing funding for Michigan universities again contained language requiring universities conducting embryonic stem cell research to report certain information to the state by December 1, 2013. The bill was givein final approval by the House and Senate in last week of May and signed by the governor in early June.

COURT CHALLENGES

“ObamaCare” Challenges: A variety of organizations and institutions are suing the Obama administration regarding the HHS contraceptive mandate. Some cases are being dismissed because the administration has delayed the mandate for some religious institutions until August of 2013 and proposed a revision of the mandate on 2/8/13. Other cases are expected to proceed because the mandate took effect for health insurance policies that renew or commenced as of 8/1/12, including for non-religious entities like private businesses (ie. Hobby Lobby, etc.). Short of a full reversal of the mandate by the Obama Administration, court challenges are expected to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

FEDERAL LEGISLATION

Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA): S 154 sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio and HR 732 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, requires any abortionist to notify a parent before performing an abortion on a minor who is a resident of another state, unless the minor has already received authorization from a court in her home state, or unless the abortionist is already required to provide such parental notification by a current law in the state in which he practices. If the minor asserts that she is the victim of abuse, the abortionist must notify the appropriate state child abuse agency instead. The bill also would make it a federal offense to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion without fulfilling the requirements of a parental notification law in effect in the home state.

On 3/22/13, during consideration of a budget resolution, Sen. Marco Rubio offered an amendment expressing the "sense of the Senate" that Congress should enact the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), S. 369. Technically, this was a vote on a motion to make the amendment in order, but in essence, the roll call demonstrated where senators stand on the CIANA. The Rubio motion failed, 48-51. Forty-three (43) Republicans and five Democrats voted in favor of the CIANA, while two Republicans and 49 Democrats voted against it.

ObamaCare Multi-state Abortion Limits: Under one of the many programs created by Obamacare, the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will offer certain insurance plans known as "multi-state plans," which eventually will be available nationwide. S154, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn and HR 346 by Rep. Alan Nummelee, would amend the law so that these "multi-state plans" will not cover abortion, except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest, which is the policy that Congress has already applied to health plans that OPM offers to federal employees.

ObamaCare Repeal or Restrictions: On 03/13/13, during consideration of a federal agency funding bill (H.R. 933) Sen. Ted Cruz offered an amendment to block funding for implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Cruz Amendment, failed 45-52, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats present voting against.

On 03/22/13, during consideration of a budget resolution, Sen. Deb Fischer offered an amendment stating that federal programs dealing with "basic primary and preventive health care" should be conducted consistently with the First Amendment to the Constitution, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, "the protection of religious beliefs and moral convictions," and the Hyde Amendment. In effect, a vote in favor of the Fischer Amendment implicitly condemned the actions of the Obama Administration in implementing a "preventive health" mandate, as part of Obamacare. The Fischer Amendment failed, 44 to 55. The amendment was supported by 42 Republicans and two Democrats. It was opposed by three Republicans and 52 Democrats.

D.C./Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: (H.R. 1797), sponsored by pro-life Rep. Trent Franks and introduced on 4/26/13. The Constitution gives Congress and the president responsibility for the governance of the District of Columbia. This bill prohibits abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks post-fertilization, except when an acute physical condition endangers the life of the mother. The bill contains extensive congressional findings that by 20 weeks fetal age, if not earlier, the unborn child is capable of experiencing great pain.

In the wake of the Kermit Gosnell trial and conviction, H.R. 1797 was amended to provide a nationwide ban on post-20 week abortions, not just in the District of Columbia. After some verbal mishandling of issues related to the bill, and in particular the issue of rape resulting in pregnancy, House GOP leaders add an “exception” to the bill to allow for the rape exception. The bill passed the U.S. House on 6/18/13 by a vote of 226-198. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated the bill is essentially “Dead on Arrival” in the Senate.

The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA): S 138 by Sen. David Vitter and HR 447 by Rep. Trent Franks, would apply federal criminal penalties to any person who does any of the following: (1) performs an abortion knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex of the child; (2) uses force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection abortion; (3) solicits or accepts funds for the performance of a sex-selection abortion; or (4) transports a woman into the United States or across a State line for the purpose of obtaining a sex-selection abortion. The bill provides that a woman cannot be prosecuted or sued in connection with her own abortion.

Family Planning Abortion Defunding (Planned Parenthood): The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, Sen. David Vitter and HR 217 by Rep. Diane Black, would prohibit funds under the federal Title X ("Title 10") family planning program from going to entities (other than hospitals) that perform abortions (except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape, or incest against a minor) -- including, but not limited to, affiliates of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).

Health Care Conscience Rights Act: HR 940, by Rep. Diane Black, provides badly needed conscience protections for Americans who face an increasingly frequent use of coercive means – governmental and other – to compel participation in providing abortion and other procedures regardless of religious and moral objections. The bill would amend the ObamaCare law to prevent the imposition of regulatory mandates that violate the religious or moral convictions of those who purchase or provide health insurance. The bill would also prevent any level of government from discriminating against health care providers, including doctors, nurses, hospitals, and insurers, who decline to participate in abortions. In addition, it would empower victims to seek relief in court for violations of the federal conscience laws.

Homeland Security Respect for Life Act: HR 493, by Rep. Bill Huizenga, provides that no funds appropriated to the federal Department of Homeland Security, from any federal program, may be used to fund abortions, except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest. The purpose of this bill is to apply to the Department of Homeland Security the same abortion policy, with respect to persons detained or incarcerated by that agency, as have long been applied to the regular federal prison system operated by the Bureau of Prisons.

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