Report: Michigan Clinics Violating Dozens of Abortion Laws

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 6, 2012   |   2:07PM   |   Washington, DC

Right to Life of Michigan has released a new report documenting abortion clinic abuses and finding that abortion businesses across the state are in violation of dozens of state laws.

Most of Michigan’s abortion clinics are not in compliance with dozens of state laws or regulations, the organization notes. 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.

The final report culminated 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 review comes in the wake of a notorious scandal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania involving abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell who killed a woman in a failed abortion, put women’s lives at risk by employing unlicensed staff and running an abortion facility that was so dilapidated it horrified local officials who inspected it.

The problems cited in the Right to Life of Michigan report highlight deficiencies like those that led Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to file lawsuits in 2011 resulting in two illegally incorporated abortion clinics closing permanently.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, “Our 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.”

Listing also noted that the changes needed to correct the reported failures are already getting attention in Lansing.

“We have received favorable indications about how the Snyder Administration and the Legislature intend to respond to this unacceptable situation,” Listing said. “New personnel and new policies are taking hold in the oversight agencies, and key legislators are looking closely at what additional resources might be needed. With our report exposing the offenses, and state officials stepping forward to reform governmental functions, we expect the worst of the abortion clinics to face closure.”

In November, a Michigan judge responded to a lawsuit the state attorney general filed seeking the closure of two abortion centers in the state by issuing a ruling saying they must be shut down while he examines the issues further. [related]

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a lawsuit in Eaton County Circuit Court to permanently close two abortion centers, the Health Care Clinic in Delta Township and the Women’s Choice Clinic in Saginaw. Both of the abortion clinics had been operating without a valid license and the state’s top attorney has said the licensing is required of any private physician offices in which at least half of the patients get an abortion.

“To ensure accountability and patient safety, Michigan law requires medical facilities to be incorporated with a licensed medical professional at the helm,” he said. “Strict enforcement of the law ensures medical clinics cannot put profit ahead of responsible patient care.”

Eaton County Circuit Court Judge Calvin Oosterhaven signed a temporary restraining order closing the two abortion facilities.

The lawsuit follows one Schuette and the Michigan Department of Community Health filed earlier this year against the Lathrup Village-based WomanCare of Southfield abortion center saying it had been operating without a valid license since last summer.

After receiving a complaint in April 2010 documenting the improper disposal of unborn babies with ordinary trash in dumpsters outside the Health Care Clinic in Delta Township, the Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation in coordination with the Eaton County Sheriff’s Department, Eaton County Prosecutor Jeff Sauter, and the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department.   Results of the joint investigation included evidence the clinics were improperly incorporated and may have violated additional state regulations

Due to shortcomings in the law, Representative Jones has since introduced legislation that would create a civil penalty for the improper disposal of fetal remains.  Senate Bill 25 establishes requirements for the proper disposal, and SB 54 requires physicians to inform parents that state law mandates them to authorize the final disposition of their baby.  Schuette supports the legislation, which has been approved by the Senate and is now before the House for consideration.