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.
“Once again, a special interest group and legislative Republicans are conspiring to prevent the citizens of our state from voting on issues that impact their private lives.” State Representative Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills) said. “Barely 3 percent of the population signed these petitions, yet they will have the power, along with the Republican legislators they endorsed, to prevent rape victims from getting the health care options they deserve.”
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.
“No matter the cause of pregnancy – even in extreme, criminal cases – a woman cannot buy this ‘rape insurance,’” Rep. Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) said. “Instead, she’s forced to have no choice whatsoever in the matter. Her only choice is to buy insurance beforehand to assume the worst is going to happen.”
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.
“This is a huge issue in Michigan, not only on the subject of abortion, but how a law like this would be a slap in the face of women’s rights,” Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton (D-Huntington Woods) said. “With this, you are making women buy insurance for themselves and their daughters – insurance their husbands and sons would never need. This initiative blatantly targets women.”
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.
“The fact Michigan Right to Life is advocating for separate rape insurance is appalling to me,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) said. “The fact they’ve found a way for the Michigan Legislature – where there is a majority of Republicans – to decide this rather than the citizens it would impact is outrageous.”