Democrats propose repealing Michigan abortion law

Democrats on Monday announced long-shot legislation to repeal Michigan's law requiring people or businesses wanting abortion insurance coverage to buy an extra policy in advance, an attempt to keep the issue in voters' minds before the November election.
AP Wire
Jun 17, 2014

 

The bills are expected to die in the GOP-controlled Legislature, which approved the law in December after Right to Life of Michigan collected more than 300,000 voter signatures to effectively override a veto by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder a year before.

"It's our job to represent people and stand up and do what we believe is right," said Rep. Sarah Roberts, a St. Clair Shores Democrat, who said lawmakers have heard from concerned residents and health care providers since the measure took effect 2½ months ago.

The law prohibits health plans from paying for elective abortion services unless an inexpensive supplemental policy is bought or a woman's life is at risk. There are no exceptions for rape or incest if the rider is not purchased.

Democrats noted just seven of 45 health insurers in the state are offering the optional rider and only to employers, which means women buying their own insurance either on or off a new government-subsidized health marketplace cannot obtain the additional coverage.

Critics joining Roberts and Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing at a Capitol news conference included Dr. Timothy Johnson with the University of Michigan's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Jennifer Lane of Ann Arbor.

Lane told of how insurance covered her hospitalization for an abortion she had after learning her fetus was missing a part of its brain and likely would not survive to term. If the law had been in place at the time, she said, an already traumatic situation would have been worsened if she and her husband also faced thousands of dollars in medical costs.

The measure does not require women suffering miscarriages or those diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy to have purchased a rider. Yet Johnson said there is uncertainty and confusion in two types of cases — "incomplete" miscarriages where a fetus will not survive but still has a heartbeat, and genetic abnormalities.

"This law has a lot of perverse outcomes, perverse consequences that are causing patients to suffer, causing women to suffer, causing families to suffer, causing marriages to suffer," he said.

Twenty-five states have opted out of covering abortions on the insurance exchange. Michigan is the ninth to also restrict private plans from covering the procedure.

Right to Life spokeswoman Pam Sherstad said the law is "clearly written" to state that women experiencing miscarriages do not have to have purchased separate abortion coverage.

"Women need to know they will be cared for," she said.

House Bills 5697 and Senate Bill 1010: http://1.usa.gov/1sjkAfg

Comments

Lanivan

Regardless of your beliefs about abortion, this is another example of Michigan legislators passing laws that affect the personal health lives of the majority of the populace, based on the whims of 3-4% of Michigan voters, choosing the option of signing it into law with NO committee hearings and NO opportunity for public input.

And in a manner whereby voters have NO opportunity to vote on it, and in a manner that circumvents their own Republican Gov Snyder veto, - which he did the year before, as well as Gov Engler when he was in office.

Dr. Timothy Johnson, Dept of Ob/Gyn at U of M, says there are perverse consequences of the law when treating women with severe problems in their pregnancies; the Right to Life spokeswoman say no way! - the law is "clearly written". Hmmmm....so Michiganders are supposed to trust her biased account of the bill she supports over a highly-trained doctor who works for a leading university medical school who specializes in pregnancy?

Essentially, this rape insurance bill penalizes victims of a crime by denying insurance options to women - only (7) insurance companies in the entire state offer the rape insurance rider, and all (7) are offered only through employers. And that brings up another privacy issue - Does this mean that employees must inform their employers they want the additional rider coverage for rape and incest insurance? What about those young women under the age of 26 who are covered by their parents' health insurance? Who perhaps are victims of pregnancy through family incest?

When narrow special interest groups, representing 3-4% of the voting public, collude with government on legislation that intrudes on the rights and privacy of the majority of Michigan families on personal health care decisions, denying voters the opportunity to vote and superseding the previous Republican Governor vetoes of Snyder and Engler, you have a group of legislators that needs to be voted out of office.

Especially when the majority of Americans do not want Roe v Wade to be repealed; want abortion to remain available under some circumstances; and do not believe abortion rights should be a priority of government intrusion. http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/...

Michigan still has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country. Legislators managed to convene for the entire summer - again with no decision on how to find an equitable way to raise badly-needed infrastructure revenue. And yet they managed to find the time to vote on a bill that even further penalizes women who are victims of a crime.

Tri-cities realist

Apparently the Michigan Repubs have taken a page from Harry Reid's playbook, but I don't recall you complaining about his tactics. Hmmm.

Lanivan

So I take it you support this kind of governance from our Michigan legislators?

Tri-cities realist

So I take it you support this kind of governance from our US Senators?

Lanivan

No! I asked you first!!

Tri-cities realist

No you don't support these tactics, or no you won't answer the question, since you asked me first? Please clarify.

I will try to be more clear: I don't support lawmakers who partake in less than scrupulous proceedings, regardless of party affiliation.

Lanivan

I was reminded of two kids squabbling over who has to quit playing and take a bath first, and responded accordingly.

Clearly, I don't like the manner in which the MI legislature passes unpopular, controversial laws that affect many MI people, but are promoted by a very small percentage of the populace, and then are constructed to be as difficult to follow as possible, are borderline unconstitutional, that pile on victims of crimes, attempting to make their lives miserable, and are based on bias, prejudice, and hate.

Tri-cities realist

And what about the US senate doing similar things? Do you support that?

Lanivan

Oh no! I've talked at length about my total disgust at the Senate Minority Republicans, who, in January 2009, after a huge loss of a national election, while the country was in a severe recession and a near-collapse of global financial markets and major stock market crash, with businesses going bankrupt, unemployment and foreclosures skyrocketing, all while we were in the midst of two long-term wars, publicly declared that their sole focus was to see to it that Obama was a 1-term president.

They failed, miserably, governing for the people, for the country, and ultimately, for their party. That's what I don't like.

Tri-cities realist

But you fully support Harry Reid who uses the same tactics that you don't like? If you'll recall the democrats have the majority in the US senate.

 

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