Michigan’s legislature has passed a sweeping initiative that would require women to buy additional, separate insurance if they want an abortion, the Detroit Free Press reports.
This means that most private and all public health insurance plans would have to offer a separate health insurance plan for abortion, something that would have to be bought into prior to even needing an abortion. As the measure mandates, women would be unable to purchase the rider after finding out they were pregnant, even in cases of rape and incest.
“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, not everyone sees it quite the same way. The bill was pushed by a citizen’s initiative, for which 315,477 people, about 4 percent of the state’s population, signed. The state House and Senate then approved, mostly along party lines.
“This is a huge government overreach and Right to Life went too far again,” said state Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D). “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.”
According to the Free Press, the debate was an emotional one, with several personal stories told by women in the legislature. Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) spoke of her own rape more than two decades ago while she was a college student, and what the law, if it had existed then, would have meant for her.
“There will be another initiative to overturn this abhorrent act,” said state Rep. Sarah Roberts (D), as opponents promised to persist in passing the bill.
“These legislators need to know what they just did,” Shelli Weisberg, a spokeswoman for ACLU in the state, added. “Women are mad. It’s like every election cycle, they do something that specifically goes against women.”