September 30, 2003

Another deceptive bill to eliminate a woman’s right to choose passed the Senate today. The new bill, called the "legal birth definition act," is an attempt to ban all abortions and will put doctors in jeopardy of facing criminal charges even in cases of completing a miscarriage. SB 395 will now go to Governor Granholm and is likely to be vetoed because it contains no health exception.

This bill is clearly part of a larger campaign to end a woman’s access to a safe and legal medical procedure,” said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director."The reference to a particular procedure is misleading – courts throughout the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have struck down the bans in part because their actual language is so broad as to prohibit far more than a single procedure.”

In spite of previous court decisions, two in Michigan, the bill remains unconstitutional, lacking a provision that protects the life and health of a woman. An insufficient and meaningless "physical health" exception, crafted by Right to Life, is now part of the bill. The amendment does nothing to eliminate the extreme danger this bill poses to women, and nothing to cure its glaring constitutional defects.

In a letter to the Senate in April, Dr. Timothy Johnson, Professor and Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, wrote, “Based on my medical experience, I know that Senate Bill 395 would, like the previous two laws, put women in grave danger: it contains non-medical language that is too vague to be comprehensible to physicians; it would ban abortions throughout pregnancy and treatment of miscarriage; and it would deny women essential, even lifesaving care.”