Yes: Abortion industry’s substandard medical practices must end

By Pamela Sherstad, director of public information
Right to Life of Michigan

Editors’ note., a web site of The Center for Michigan, solicited editorials from Right to Life of Michigan’s Pamela Sherstad and Lori Lamerand, the chair of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan in response to passage last month in the state House of  House Bill 5711. Both were reprinted in the Grand Rapids Press.


Pamela Sherstad

A bill addressing the substandard medical practices of the abortion industry has caused, what appears to be, a great deal of misguided uproar by those who oppose the legislation.  The Michigan House of Representatives advanced House Bill 5711 by a bipartisan vote of 70-39 on June 13. The important question to ask is, “What is in this bill, given all the controversy surrounding it?”

Before we can discuss HB 5711 and the details of its contents, it is important to clearly state what HB 5711 is not. It is not about the legality of abortion. It is important to know that the United States Supreme Court created a federal constitutional right to abortion in the 1973 decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Abortion is legal through all nine months of pregnancy.

HB 5711 is about the unchecked abortion industry in Michigan.

HB 5711 is a combination of five previously introduced bills rolled into a single, omnibus bill. The bill amends the Michigan Public Health Code to bring about long overdue reforms to the state’s abortion industry.

In brief, HB 5711 will:

* 1. Require all surgical abortion clinics to be licensed and inspected by the state.

* 2. Require abortion clinics to screen women for coercion to abort.

* 3. Prohibit prescribing and dispensing RU-486 abortion pills via Internet webcam connections.

* 4. Require the humane disposition of aborted baby bodies.

* 5. Require abortionists with bad medical records to carry a minimum amount of malpractice insurance.

Abortion is an invasive surgical procedure developed to end the life of an unborn child. The abortion procedure also can lead to serious medical complications for a woman. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, 23,307 abortions were performed in 2010. Potential complications for abortion include, but are not limited to, bleeding, hemorrhage, infection, uterine perforation, blood clots, cervical tears, incomplete abortion, and cardiac arrest.

I attended a committee hearing that addressed serious abortion industry concerns. The Michigan Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Licensing & Regulatory Affairs heard testimony on abortion clinic abuses in Michigan. To hear about the substandard medical practices of Michigan’s abortion industry was shocking.

A few of the abuses noted during the hearing including: violation of bio-hazard waste disposal and medical record privacy laws; negligent operative and post-operative practices that have resulted in patient injury and death; and refusal to release medical records for patient use and patient follow-up care.

From what I learned during the committee hearing, Michigan has a public health problem.

Michigan lawmakers have a duty and responsibility to act when there is a public health problem. According to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, a state has “a legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion, like any other medical procedure, is performed under circumstances that ensure maximum safety for the patient.” Plainly, Michigan lawmakers are working within their authority to intervene regarding substandard practices within the abortion industry.

There are very good reasons why this legislation passed by a 70-39 vote, common sense and true concern for women’s health being among them. I only wish the lawmakers had acted 39 years ago. Too many women in Michigan have been put at risk.