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OPINION

Mich. abortion clinic abuses go 'uninvestigated'

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WASHINGTON (BP) -- Michigan provides almost no oversight of the 32 abortion clinics in the state, a leader of Right to Life of Michigan has testified in a state Senate subcommittee hearing.
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As a result, unhealthy conditions and violations of reporting mandates are rampant, said Ed Rivet, Right to Life state legislative director, according to the Detroit Free Press.

A state government official acknowledged the inadequate oversight in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' March 15 hearing.

Mike Pemble, director of the Bureau of Health Systems, said only four of the state's abortion centers are licensed, the Free Press reported. Michigan may inspect only licensed facilities, Pemble said, while admitting that few inspections occur because of a lack of employees. There is no full-time inspector, he said.

Some of the centers "should have been shut down a long time ago," Rivet told the Senate panel. "When complaints are filed ... problems go uninvestigated."

At least two women have died from abortion complications in the last 10 years without their deaths being reported to the state, according to Right to Life.

The state organization issued a 52-page report on clinic abuses last November, drawing from months of research and thousands of pages of documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act.

"The report demonstrates that many abortion clinics have operated without holding a proper license or were granted a state license without ever being inspected," the group stated in a news release. "Most of Michigan's abortion clinics are not in compliance with dozens of state laws or regulations. The report also cites a vital need for oversight and enforcement on the part of Michigan agencies charged with holding health providers and facilities to account."

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Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said the report "reveals that women's health and welfare are needlessly being put at risk. We have heard numerous stories about the deplorable conditions that persist in Michigan abortion clinics. This blatant disregard for women's safety due to a lack of proper government oversight must stop."

The report is available for download at on Right to Life of Michigan's website, www.rtl.org.

Meanwhile, legislators in other states continue to approve proposals regulating abortion. Among the latest:

-- The Mississippi House of Representatives passed bills the week of March 12-16 requiring physicians at the state's only abortion clinic to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology and to have hospital admitting privileges; mandating a doctor must be in the same room with a woman to whom he dispenses the abortion drug RU 486; and prohibiting abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, the Associated Press reported.

-- The New Hampshire House approved measures March 14 mandating a 24-hour waiting period and information on fetal development be given to women considering abortion, banning partial-birth abortion and halting weekend judicial bypasses for minor girls seeking abortions without parental notification, according to the Concord Monitor.

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-- The Wisconsin House passed legislation in a 61-34 vote March 13 barring any Wisconsin exchange plan under the 2010 federal health care reform law from covering abortion, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode and BP editor Art Toalston. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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