Dems Continue Fight to Ensure Access to Health Care Coverage with Michigan’s Harsh ‘Abortion Rider’ Law

Rider wouldn’t be needed in cases of rape, maternal health, genetic abnormality
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

LANSING — State Reps. Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores), Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) and Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) are introducing legislation aimed at helping Michigan women hurt by the disastrous “abortion rider” legislation passed in 2013. That law requires women to purchase extra insurance to cover abortion, even when one is medically necessary to preserve a woman’s health, when a fetus suffers a genetic abnormality or a woman becomes pregnant following a rape or incest. The new bills being introduced would exempt those three situations from the abortion rider law.

“Michigan’s punitive abortion rider law failed to make exemptions for women who are facing some of the most tragic circumstances imaginable,” Rep. Roberts said. “While completely repealing this awful law remains our goal, these proposals support women facing a health crisis, a genetic abnormality or who have been victims of rape or incest. Women in these situations shouldn’t be further punished by a law that put a special interest group’s agenda ahead of women’s well-being.”

Rep. Robert’s bill would allow a woman to use health insurance to cover an abortion when medical tests reveal the fetus suffers from a genetic abnormality. Rep. Hovey-Wright’s law would do the same for women whose doctors recommend terminating a pregnancy in order to preserve her health, while Driskell’s bill would extend that exemption to women who become pregnant following rape or incest. Currently, abortions performed to save a woman’s life are the only exception to the abortion rider law.

“It is shameful that our state would punish women who discover they have cancer while they are pregnant by making them pay out-of-pocket for a medical treatment that could save their lives,” Rep. Hovey-Wright said. “About one in 3,000 pregnant women have or develop breast cancer during pregnancy, and for them, ending a pregnancy increases their chance for survival. These women need to be helped, not punished.”

Rep. Roberts has introduced legislation that would repeal the abortion insurance opt-out law. And a bill was introduced to require health insurers to offer the “abortion rider” policy. Currently, just eight of Michigan’s 42 health insurers even make them available, meaning that even if women want to buy the rider, many are unable to.

“Women who have survived rape or incest have endured awful events that most of us cannot understand. Requiring a woman who has become pregnant from such events to carry the pregnancy to term, or otherwise pay exorbitant costs out of pocket, just because she could not anticipate such tragedies and buy an insurance rider, is insensitive and unreasonable,” Rep. Driskell said. “While the abortion opt-out law as a whole is problematic for women, these bills would at least provide help to women who find themselves in such tragic situations. I urge my colleagues to support these compassionate bills and work to see them signed into law.”