I adamantly oppose this initiated law. I concur with all of the opposition comments made today, and submit Rep. Knezek’s comments as my constitutional no-vote explanation.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today in opposition to the initiated law before us today. You know, it wasn’t too long ago that we were standing here, listening to the majority’s argument that we should overhaul the Michigan Court of Claims due to the fact that the judges who serve on that court are selected by 3 percent of Michigan’s population.
Yet here we stand again today, prepared to drastically alter the way in which Michigan women gain access to the healthcare they need during some of the most difficult times of their lives, thanks to the signatures of, you guessed it, 3 percent of the state’s population. The hypocrisy, if not for the severity of the issue, is laughable.
There is no question that the issue of women’s reproductive health is incredibly divisive. Passionate beliefs are held across the political spectrum but the issue before us today – interference in the private insurance market while forcing women to buy additional insurance for abortion procedures – has been found to be so extreme, that Democrats and Republicans in Michigan have frequently united to oppose this issue. Gov. Engler vetoed this legislation. Gov. Snyder vetoed this legislation; between 60-70 percent of Michigan residents oppose this legislation; but that’s just not enough for the special interests in our state.
As the youngest member of the Democratic caucus, I find it necessary to rise and give voice specifically to the young women and young girls who don’t have a say in this chamber today. Restricting a women’s access to abortion services in the case of rape and incest is an abhorrent assault on women’s rights in this state. I want everyone in this chamber to stop for a second to think about their wives, their sisters, their daughters, their friends, and their coworkers. If they were raped, if they were the victim of incest, if they were having a miscarriage that put their own lives in danger – what would you want? Would you want to make their access to medical assistance and basic reproductive health care easier, or would you have hoped that they could have foresaw that rape, or that incest, or any other life threatening complication months in advance and had bought that additional insurance rider?
I’d venture to say that you’d want your daughters, your wives, your sisters to be happy and healthy and alive. If you feel that way, I encourage you to allow the citizens of the State of Michigan to have the final say in this measure. Give a voice to your wife, give a voice to your sister, give a voice to your daughters. With issues as divisive as these, it is beyond reasonable to allow the citizens of Michigan to decide.
Just imagine if this was a bill to restrict a man’s access to a vasectomy or other medical services. There would be no debate, there would be no discussion, because the bills never make it to the House floor. The people of the state of Michigan should have the final say on this issue. The alternative would be to allow this chamber, a chamber comprised by 80% men, to tell 100% of the women in this state what they can and cannot do with their bodies. That, Mr. Speaker, is something I cannot support.”