(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 12, 2013)
In a vote almost along party lines (62-47 by the House and 27-11 in the Senate), Michigan legislators approved a ban on health insurance providers from providing abortion coverage as part of their plans. Instead women will be required to purchase a separate rider if they ever think they may need it.
Plans cannot even include cases of rape, incest, or major health problems with the fetus.
The petition presented by Right to Life was signed by 315,477 people, just 4% of the population of the state. Legislators could have chosen to put the issue on the ballot for a public vote, but instead passed it. Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a similar bill last year. Because it was done through a citizen petition, it cannot be vetoed. It will take effect in 90 days.
Democrats spoke against the petition, saying that women should not be required to purchase “rape insurance.”
Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, the Democratic Senate Minority Leader, shared the pain at having been raped while she was in college. “Thank God it didn’t result in a pregnancy because I can’t imagine going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker,” she said.
Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said, “We are thankful for the hundreds of thousands of dedicated volunteers and prolife citizens who made this law possible. We applaud the Michigan legislators who stood firm in their resolve and voted to ensure no person is forced to fund the deliberate taking of an innocent human life in the name of health care.” Right to Life called the effort “The NO Taxes for Abortion Insurance petition drive.”
According to the Associated Press, eight other states restrict private plans from covering pregnancy termination procedures. Seven states require riders: Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma. And Utah does not allow coverage of elective abortions at all, but does allow general plans to cover it in cases of rape, incest, fetal impairment or when the woman’s life is endangered.
Watch Whitmer’s testimony below: