Michigan Senate Panel Approves Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

A new effort by Michigan lawmakers to ban partial-birth abortion in the state made headway Wednesday when a state Senate panel approved legislation to stop what pro-life advocates call a gruesome procedure.

Passed by the Senate Health Policy Committee, the legislation mirrors language contained in the 2003 federal ban on partial-birth abortion.

Sponsors of the measure said it will enable state and local authorities to stop abortion practitioners from performing the procedure. They also believe its similarities to the federal ban will ensure its passage.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the new bill next Tuesday, which is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

There have been several attempts by lawmakers and the public to ban partial-birth abortion in state, with the latest taking place in 2004.

The ban was passed in 2004 but Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed the legislation. Her actions prompted a petition effort signed by hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents who urged the legislature to have her veto overturned.

Republican Sen. Cameron Brown, the chief sponsor, said many residents of his Senate district supported the petition drive and "made a strong stand against the veto," according to The Detroit News.

"We want our legacy to be one in which the people's voice is reflected in the law," he said.

Lawmakers approved the ban but a court challenge blocked the measure from being implemented.

Michigan legislators are revisiting the issue after the U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to hear an appeal to revive the state's 2004 law banning the procedure.

The bill outlaws a procedure used to end pregnancies in the second and third trimesters. The procedure is dubbed partial-birth abortion because it involves practitioners partially delivering the fetus outside a woman's body and using sharp tools to crush or cut the skull to complete the abortion.

The proposal would make the procedure a state felony punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Abortion supporters say the law is unnecessary because federal law already prohibits such procedures. Abortion opponents, however, argue the state ban of partial-birth abortion is necessary in the case where the federal law is overturned.