Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act

P.A. 168 of 2011
P.A. 169 of 2011
M.C.L. 750.90h
S.B. 160 – Sen. Arlan Meekhof
H.B. 4110 – Rep. Ben Glardon

Current Status
The Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act was signed into law October 11, 2011, ending the 15-year fight to ban this heinous “medical procedure” in Michigan. The law came into effect January 1, 2012.

This legislation makes it a felony for a physician or any other individual to perform a partial birth abortion, except to save the life of the mother when endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury.

A physician or another individual who performs a PBA will be charged with a felony, punishable by up to two years imprisonment, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.

The bill mirrors the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in Gonzales v. Carhart on April 18, 2007. Having a state law in place is necessary to provide for enforcement at the state level, instead of having to rely on federal prosecutors, whose resources are overextended.

In the partial-birth abortion procedure, the woman’s cervix is dilated over a period of three days. On the third day, the infant is delivered feet first up to the neck. Then while the infant’s head is still inside the birth canal, the child is killed. The skull is collapsed and the now-dead infant is delivered the rest of the way.

Physicians have an interest in preserving the health and life of both the mother and child. This procedure clearly “confuses the medical, legal and ethical duties of a physician to preserve and promote life,” according to the federal PBA ban. PBA is “broadly disfavored by medical experts” and the public.

This legislation contains an exception for the life of the mother in order to mirror the language of the federal ban. There is no consensus among obstetricians that it is ever medically necessary. Physicians’ groups have testified that not only is the procedure never medically necessary, but also it poses serious health risks to the mother.

H.B. 4109-10 and S.B. 160-61 were the sixth legislative effort to ban PBA by prolife Michigan legislators. H.B. 4109-10 were introduced on January 20, 2011 and referred to the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors. The Committee held a hearing for testimony only on June 16, 2011. RLM testified in favor of the bills, as did the Catholic Conference, a prolife physician, a prolife law professor, and a longtime prolife citizen activist. Michigan National Organization for Women (NOW), the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood testified in opposition. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists submitted a letter of opposition. The House Committee held a second hearing on June 21, 2011, and the bills were reported out of committee with a 7-2 vote.

S.B. 160-61 were introduced on February 17, 2011, and reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 1, 2011, with a vote of 3-1 on S.B. 160 and 3-0 with one abstention on S.B. 161. RLM President Barb Listing testified in favor of the bills. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists testified in opposition.

On September 21, 2011, the Senate passed S.B. 160-161 with a vote of 29-8, with one senator absent. That same day, the House passed their identical version of the PBA Ban Act, 75-33, with one representative absent. The legislature then sent one bill from the senate, S.B. 160, and one bill from the House, H.B. 4110, to the Governor’s desk.

Identical bills were introduced last session in both the House and the Senate and referred to committee. No further action was taken on these bills. In the 2007-2008 session, identical legislation passed in the Senate (24-13) on January 22, 2008 and in the House (74-32) on May 27, 2008, only to be vetoed by Governor Jennifer Granholm on June 13, 2008, because it lacked a so-called “health” exception.

Prior to 2008, Michigan adopted three separate laws to ban partial birth abortion, the last of which was enacted by a citizen initiative petition drive. All were ruled unconstitutional. Click here for the history of these three attempts to ban PBA.