Michigan lawmakers passed a controversial measure on Wednesday that will ban all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion unless the woman's life is in danger. The law, which takes effect in March, will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest.
Supporters of the "Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act" argue that it allows people who are opposed to abortion to avoid paying into a plan that covers it. Opponents have nicknamed it the "rape insurance" initiative, because it would force some women to anticipate the possibility of being raped by purchasing the extra abortion insurance ahead of time.
The Michigan State Legislature first passed the measure last year, but Governor Rick Snyder (R) vetoed it, saying he does not "believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage."
But the anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan was able to collect more than 300,000 voter signatures on a petition this year to force a second vote on the measure. Having been passed by both chambers, the bill automatically becomes law now, even without Snyder's approval.
More than 80 percent of private insurance plans currently cover abortions, the New York Times reported, citing research organization the Guttmacher Institute. Eight states have passed similar laws banning the insurance coverage of abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, but only two of them have actually made the abortion rider available to women.
I guess the argument behind most insurances covering abortion is the "one less person to cover", but the fact that lawmakers want to choose what we can and can't have and insurance companies rallying behind the mess are troubling things.
this is just crazy. my insurance through Kaiser covered abortions. why is half of this country moving in such a backwards direction? let people have their medical marijuana, it literally saves lives and let people choose what's best for their uterus!
A group of Michigan lawmakers have introduced a measure to roll back a controversial abortion restriction that went into effect
this past spring. The new law requires women in the state to purchase a
separate insurance policy for abortion coverage, even in cases of rape
The measure has been widely derided as “rape insurance,”
since it essentially forces victims of sexual assault to pay
out-of-pocket for an abortion procedure unless they thought ahead and
purchased a separate insurance rider. During the legislative fight over
the bill, State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) disclosed
her own experience with sexual assault to explain why she was opposed to the proposed law. Now, Whitmer continues to fight back.
“This law hurts all women,” Whitmer said at a press conference this week
to announce the repeal effort, which she is spearheading. “Not just
women who are victims of incest or rape, or who experience the
gut-wrenching effect of a miscarriage, but every single woman or man who
has to make the decision about whether or not to pre-purchase abortion
rider insurance for the women who are covered by their insurance,
including their daughters.”
Whitmer also called the law “one of the most misogynistic laws I’ve ever seen.”
Dr. Timothy Johnson, who works at the University of Michigan’s
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, pointed out that the law is creating confusion
among medical professionals. Some women experience serious
complications that result in the loss of a wanted pregnancy, and it’s
unclear whether those situations fall under the state law’s definition
of an abortion. “This is creating a lot of uncertainty in the
doctor-patient relationship. The last thing we want is to have to worry
about who has to pay for a necessary procedure,” he said at the press conference.
The lawmakers who introduced the repeal effort acknowledged that it’s
unlikely they’ll succeed in the Michigan legislature, which is
dominated by abortion opponents. Indeed, now that they’ve successfully
restricted women’s abortion coverage, conservative lawmakers continue to
introduce other stringent anti-choice measures. Earlier this month, a
group of 16 male politicians introduced a radical “heartbeat” measure
that would criminalize nearly all abortions.
Still, Democrats are hoping to mobilize public opposition
to the so-called “rape insurance” law. “Michigan has been an
embarrassment in terms of how we treat private medical decisions between
a woman and her doctor,” Libby McGaughey, vice president of public
advocacy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said in a
statement. “It’s good to finally see some reasonable legislation being
introduced in Lansing.”
And Michigan Democrats aren’t alone. Pro-choice lawmakers in Virginia and Ohio have also recently introduced measures to roll back their states’ attacks on abortion rights.
Michigan’s new insurance restriction has captured a lot of media attention over the past several months, but it’s hardly the only state that’s enacted this particular policy. Cutting off access to insurance coverage for abortion is an very popular method
of restricting reproductive rights, and complicated laws that segregate
abortion from the rest of women’s reproductive health care are in place
across the country. Obamacare’s state-level exchanges have introduced a new avenue for abortion opponents to further this artificial divide.
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