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Watch out women

Abortion rights took a double hit last week before the Republican-dominated Legislature recessed. The House and Senate passed a bill to ban “bundled” campaign contributions in what some view as a thinly veiled attempt to block state Attorney General Jennifer Granholm from receiving contributions from Emily’s List, a group that supports pro-choice candidates nationwide. The group, which solicits and gathers contributions from individuals across the nation, contributed about $1 million to help Debbie Stabenow win her Senate seat in 2000. It recently endorsed Granholm for governor. “This is the good ’ol boys trying to keep women out of elected office,” says Granholm spokesman Chris De Witt. “You’ve got women across the country, many in Michigan, writing checks averaging around $30 for candidates they support through Emily’s List. The legislature has tried to shut them out of the process in the guise of campaign finance reform. But insurance execs who want to give checks for thousands of dollars, they have no problem with that.”

In a second move, the state House shoved health clinics providing abortion services to the end of the line for state and federal funds. If OK’d by the Senate, the bill would hit Planned Parenthood hard because the agency depends on $3.5 million in state and federal dollars to treat around 68,000 Michigan patients a year on a sliding-fee scale. The agency, which provides gynecology services, pregnancy and STD counseling and other reproductive services, doesn’t use a dime of taxpayer money for any abortion services and is audited to ensure that it doesn’t, says Robyn Menin, president of Planned Parenthood Mid-Michigan Alliance. Private dollars round out the costs for PP’s many services, she said, but losing the public money “will close clinics … It’s the most serious challenge, I think, to reasonable health care that this state has ever seen.”

Lisa M. Collins contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or cguyette@metrotimes.com

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