Michigan GOP Backs Off Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill

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After an outcry from Democrats, Michigan’s Republican House speaker and governor on Thursday ruled out legislation introduced by Republicans requiring women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound prior to having an abortion.

“While I want to be sure women have access to the best technology available, I have absolutely no interest in forcing a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound,” House Speaker Jase Bolger said in a statement. “This House of Representatives will not pass a bill mandating transvaginal ultrasounds.”

Gov. Rick Snyder’s office denounced the bill after the Speaker nixed it.

“Gov. Snyder is not at all supportive of this legislation and has zero interest in seeing it come to his desk,” his spokeswoman Sara Wurfel told TPM.The bill was introduced Tuesday by state Rep. Joel Johnson (R) and 22 fellow lawmakers, and swiftly received pushback from state Democrats and the reproductive rights group NARAL.

A spokeswoman for Michigan’s House Minority Leader Tim Greimel (D) told TPM he “commends Speaker Bolger for standing up to the extremist right wing members of his caucus and rejecting this proposal to force women to undergo an invasive procedure that is unnecessary and unwarranted.”

Republicans have a 59-51 majority in the state House. They control both chambers.

“We must increase the value of life in Michigan because all life is valuable and no life is disposable,” Bolger said. “No matter a person’s beliefs regarding abortions, I hope we in Michigan can come together on goals we can all agree on.”

Ari Adler, a spokesman for Speaker Bolger, told TPM that the Republican wants to leave no room for doubt that the proposal will not move forward.

“One issue that some other reporters have asked is why the statement didn’t address the specific bill,” Adler said in an email. “The answer is that Speaker Bolger wanted to unequivocally address the issue at hand, which is mandating transvaginal ultrasounds for women who are considering an abortion. The mandate is unacceptable, regardless of who the sponsor is or what bill number the legislation carries.”

The bill’s chief sponsor also backed off the transvaginal ultrasound component.

“Representative Johnson remains open to amendments that would make it clear that this legislation is not intended to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds,” said Ben Frederick, a legislative aide to Rep. Johnson. “This has never been the intent of the bill.”

This article has been updated since the time of publication.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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