LANSING – After enough signatures were turned in last week and then certified today, a petition requiring women to buy additional health insurance to cover abortions heads to the state Legislature for approval. Michigan Right to Life spearheaded the petition drive. The Legislature has 40 days to approve, reject or do nothing with the ballot initiative. If they and the state Senate approve it and it becomes law, it would require women to buy the insurance before knowing if they are pregnant.

The number of signatures collected – 315,477 – is only approximately 3 percent of the state population.

“Special interests continue to play to the whims of Legislative Republicans,” Women’s Democratic Caucus Chairwoman state Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) said. “Because of the signatures collected on this initiative, the people won’t get a voice in this decision. Ninety-seven percent of Michiganders will have to sit back and let a small group of people decide what’s best for them.”

Along with requiring women to buy coverage before they know they’re pregnant, insurance could not be bought even if they become pregnant by rape or incest.

When the proposal came to the governor last year, he vetoed it, stating that it wasn’t appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant by rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage. He also mentioned that this kind of policy was an overreach of government.

“People need to be clear about what this initiative will mean for victims of rape and incest,” Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio) said. “Right to Life wants to further traumatize these women by denying health care coverage to terminate a pregnancy forced upon them in the most heinous of circumstances. This cruel policy of RTL will force women to purchase abortion riders – assuming such an option is even available – as a preemptive move against a nightmarish possibility.”

Because the petition is a citizens initiative, if it passes the House and Senate the governor would not need to sign it, nor would he be able to veto it. If it is not passed, the issue would go on the November 2014 ballot for a statewide vote.

“In cases of rape or incest, or when a woman’s life is at risk, women and doctors should not have their hands tied by Lansing bureaucrats or right-wing special interest groups,” Rep. Kate Segal (D-Battle Creek) said. “Michigan women should never be asked to plan ahead for rape and it is time for this Republican majority to start putting women’s interests before political interests or special interests.”