<From> Michigan news briefs

February 13, 2001 Detroit Free Press


Michigan ranks last in access to abortions

Michigan ranked last in the country in offering women access to abortions, according to a study released Monday.

There are 36 abortion clinics in just 11 of the state's 83 counties, the Michigan Abortion and Reproduction Rights Action League reported. There were 70 clinics in 1992.

Michigan's northernmost clinic is in Saginaw, which draws women who drive for hours from the Upper Peninsula for its services, the report said.

"What is important about Michigan is it enacted more restrictive legislation than any other state in 2000," said Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, which conducts the annual study. "It also had a serious decline in the number of providers able to serve women's needs."

The group looked at the number of restrictions a state has for a woman attempting to have an abortion, the amount of anti-abortion rights legislation being passed and the number of clinics and providers available to women for reproductive health care needs.

"Usually it is not good to be in last place, but under these circumstances, I'd say it's very good," said Pamela Sherstad, spokeswoman for Right to Life of Michigan.

Abortions in the state have dropped to 26,207 in 1999 from 49,098 in 1987.

"I think it reflects that change to a more pro-life attitude in Michigan," Sherstad said.

Michigan has a parental consent law and a ban on Medicaid coverage for abortions. Last year, after a five-year court battle, the state began requiring a 24-hour waiting period for abortions.

A law passed last year requires the licensing and regulation of doctors' offices where more than 50 percent of the services performed are abortions. The law also requires physicians to report any physical complications or death from abortions.

By the Associated Press