Late yesterday afternoon Michigan Republicans passed controversial legislation making it illegal for insurance companies to include abortion procedures as part of their standard coverage, even in cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the mother might be in jeopardy. Should women in the sate of Michigan require abortion coverage, in the opinion of these legislators, they should have to buy it on top of whatever insurance they might already have and pay for. Clearly the intention, as with last December’s anti-abortion omnibus bill, is to greatly reduce the number of legal abortions in the state of Michigan, without running afoul of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. In other words, as they can’t legally keep women from having abortions, they’ve essentially decided to make those procedures as costly and inconvenient as possible.
The law will take effect 90 days after the Michigan Legislature adjourns for the year.
So, if you think you my may get raped in the new year, you may want to add “abortion insurance” to your Christmas list.
The passage of this legislation should be a surprise to no one… Last year, as you may recall, anti-abortion Republicans in Lansing, in an attempt to further curtail the reproductive freedom of Michigan women, inserted similar language into a Blue Cross Blue Shield restructuring bill (SB 1293). Governor Snyder, in that instance, did the right thing and vetoed the bill. “When I proposed these reforms (to Blue Cross Blue Shield),” Snyder said, “there was no reference to abortion. Regrettably, those provisions were later added. I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage. And as a practical matter, I believe this type of policy is an overreach of government into the private market.” Unfortunately, others in his party did not see it the same way. They regrouped immediately and began looking for other non-electoral means of accomplishing the same thing, knowing that, it it were ever put to a vote, it would be easily defeated.
And, with that, the far right initiated a petition drive to get around Snyder’s veto. And it was successful. The Michigan Right to Life petition was sighed by 315,477 people, or about 4% of the state’s voters. And that, for reasons I still don’t quite comprehend, apparently makes the legislation veto-proof.
It’s absolutely mind boggling to me that just because 4% of Michigan voters signed a petition, victims of rape can now be coerced into carrying the children of their attackers to term. And, yes, I realize that most women who get abortions aren’t the victims of rape. That’s just the most egregious part of all of this. No one, however, regardless of the reason they desire to have an abortion, should be forced to conform to the narrow beliefs of a religious minority. And this is especially true in a country where Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. With all of this said, is it any wonder at all that young, educated women are fleeing our state in droves?
Here, with more background on this new Republican legislation, is a clip from the Detroit Free Press.
…Michigan will join eight other states that have instituted policies prohibiting public and private insurance plans from including abortion coverage in health care policies, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based agency that tracks policies regarding women’s health and reproductive rights. Another 15 states prohibit the coverage in insurance purchased through the health exchanges set up through the Affordable Care Act.
Opponents promised to continue their fight against the bill.
“There will be another initiative to overturn this abhorrent act,” said state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores.
Shelli Weisberg, a spokeswoman for the ACLU of Michigan, said a coalition of opponents of the initiative will gather next week to begin planning for a petition drive to repeal the law. The group did polling in a handful of Senate and House districts represented by Republican lawmakers. The polls showed widespread opposition to the initiative.
“These legislators need to know what they just did,” she said. “Women are mad. It’s like every election cycle, they do something that specifically goes against women”…
If the Republicans cared about democracy, they’d allow the question to be put to a vote. This, however, was never about the will of the people. This was about 4% of our population using tricks and gimmicks to get their way, and force the women of Michigan to conform to their narrow interpretation of biblical law. This is coercion plain and simple, and it’s absolutely shameful.
And, here, lest I forget, is a list of all of our elected officials and how they voted on this issue. Please remember to print this list out and take it with you to the polls come November.
[note: Governor Snyder may have vetoed this legislation in its last iteration, but that doesn't mean he's a friend of women when it comes to safeguarding their reproductive rights. As you may recall, he did sign into law the comprehensive anti-abortion omnibus bill referenced above, during the Republican hijacking of last December's lame duck session.]