The Republican-dominated Michigan state legislature pushed through a bill on Wednesday requiring women to purchase separate insurance policies if they want to have an abortion, the Detroit Free Press reported.
“I don’t think elective abortion should be a part of insurance,” state Rep. Nancy Jenkins (R) told the Free Press. “This doesn’t affect access to abortion. It will still be legal when this law takes effect. Who should be required to pay? Not Michigan taxpayers.”
However, the law, which takes effect in early 2014, will also ban women from purchasing the policy after becoming pregnant under any circumstances, including rape and incest, causing opponents to refer to it as a policy on “rape insurance.”
The bill passed by a 27-11 margin in the Senate, and a 62-47 vote in the House, mostly along party lines. According to the Associated Press, state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) said during the debate that she was raped 20 years ago.
“Thank God it didn’t result in a pregnancy because I can’t imagine going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker,” Whitmer was quoted as saying. “If this were law then and I had become pregnant, I would not be able to have coverage because of this. How extreme, how extreme does this measure need to be?”
Supporters of the law cited a petition drive by the anti-abortion group Right To Life that gathered 315,477 signatures — covering about 4 percent of the state’s population — as a response to Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) vetoing a similar bill in 2012 as a reason to avoid a statewide referendum on this year’s bill, saying residents in each of the state’s 83 counties signed the petition.
“This is a huge government overreach and Right to Life went too far again,” state Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D) told the Free Press in response. “Do not underestimate the power of a lot of angry women and the men who support us. A yes vote puts you on the wrong side of history.”
[Image by American Life League via Flickr Creative Commons]