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GOP bill would enact harsh punishment on abortion providers

Abortion rights activists march in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3, 2021.
Gayatri Malhotra
Abortion rights activists march in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3, 2021.

A Republican-sponsored bill in the state Legislature would impose harsh penalties on abortion providers. The legislation was introduced as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to rule in a case that could roll back abortion rights protections.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Steve Carra and five other GOP lawmakers. Carra said one reason behind the bill is a recent Court of Claims ruling that could halt enforcement of Michigan’s dormant abortion ban if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

“And so we have no guarantee that that will be fully enforced as its currently written and we actually have many reasons and concerns on whether we will be able to use that existing law, unfortunately,” he told Michigan Public Radio.

Carra said his bill would specifically target abortion providers and not women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. The bill would also outlaw contraceptives commonly known as “Plan B” or the “morning-after pill.”

The toughest penalty would be a 20-year prison sentence for abortion providers.

“It’s not a de minimis crime,” Carra said. “It’s a life in the womb and to willfully take the life of an innocent human being should come with harsh penalties.”

But abortion rights advocates – including Representative Donna Lasinski, the House Democratic leader – say the goal remains depriving women of the right to make health care decisions.

“And so I think he’s decided the easiest path to infringe women’s rights to bodily autonomy and to make medical and health decisions between themselves and their doctor is to attack the doctor and that is simply what this is,” she told Michigan Public Radio. “This bill introduced by Representative Carra takes something that was extreme and makes it even more extreme.”

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

Republicans control the House and the Senate. If the bill is adopted, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is an ardent advocate for abortion rights and would certainly veto it.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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