Michigan lawmakers to decide on petition banning insurance for abortion

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Lansing, MI, United States (4E) – The GOP-dominated Michigan legislature will tackle starting Tuesday a voters’ petition banning insurance coverage for abortions.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on Monday approved and sent the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act to state lawmakers for decision after more than the necessary 258,088 valid registered voters signed the petition initiated by the group No Taxes for Abortion Insurance and backed by Right to Life of Michigan. Lawmakers have 40 days to either approve the ban or let a November referendum decide on it.

Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger of Marshall has yet to decide whether to take up the proposal or not, according to his spokesman, Ari Adler.

In case of legislative approval, government agencies and private businesses couldn’t offer their employees abortion coverage as part of their general health care plans. However, it allows a separate rider for an abortion in the plan that people would have to buy using their own money before knowing whether they would need an abortion. People wouldn’t be able to buy the rider after getting pregnant by any means, including rape or incest.

Democrats and abortion rights supporters led by Planned Parenthood of Michigan and the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to oppose passage of the act, which would make Michigan the ninth state to exclude abortion coverage in health insurance plans. They will try to convince lawmakers not to act on the initiative so the state’s voters will decide on it.

“Forcing women to decide whether they want to buy ‘rape insurance’ and even compelling parents to make the unfathomable decision about whether to buy it for their daughters is truly despicable,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing), according to Detroit Free Press. “Requiring Michigan women to plan ahead for an unplanned pregnancy is not only illogical, it’s one of the most misogynistic proposals I have ever seen in the Michigan Legislature.”

Abortion rights advocates also do not want a small number of people or just 4.2 percent of Michigan’s more than 7.4 million registered voters to determine health policy for all of the state’s women, according to Megan Groen of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan.

A similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder last year citing the inappropriate intrusion into private health insurance by the government.

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