Mich. Legislature approves abortion insurance law
By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press
LANSING, Dec. 11, 2013 (AP): Republican legislators passed a law
Wednesday to ban almost all abortion coverage from health
insurance plans in Michigan unless an additional policy is
bought, ignoring Democrats' pleas to allow a statewide vote
The citizens' initiative approved by the House 62-47 and Senate
27-11—almost entirely along party lines—will become law in March
without the signature of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who
vetoed similar legislation a year ago. Anti-abortion group
Right to Life collected more than 300,000 signatures to put
the legislation before lawmakers, who had 40 days while in
session to vote on their own or leave it to voters to decide
Michigan employers and residents would have to buy extra
insurance known as a rider to cover almost all abortions, though
such riders won't have to be offered by insurers. Their primary
plan will pay only if an abortion is needed to save the woman's
life but not to protect her health or in cases of rape or
The law won approval after emotional debates on the chamber
floors, which included Democratic female legislators telling
personal stories in opposition to what they called ``rape
insurance'' legislation that is among the most misogynistic they
Trying to hold back tears, Democratic Senate Minority Leader
Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing disclosed that she was
raped more than 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,'' she said. ``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?''
Democrats said 4 percent of Michigan's population shouldn't be
able to dictate health care for women, a reference to the number
of people who signed the petition to bring the issue to
thrust behind the law is keeping taxpayer-subsidized plans on
Michigan's new insurance marketplace from covering abortions, an
option for states under the federal health care law. Yet the
state says none of the 73 plans being offered to individuals
covers what the industry calls elective or voluntary abortions.
Three of the 68 small employer plans do and are sold by one
insurer, United Healthcare Life Insurance Co.
The law also applies to employer and individual plans, a reason
the governor last year vetoed similar legislation tucked into a
broader bill. He cited concerns about government overreach in
requiring supplemental policies for abortion coverage in private
plans and a lack of exceptions for cases of rape and incest.
``As a result of this citizen-initiated legislation, Michigan
will continue its strong record of protecting taxpayers from
financing another person's elective abortion,'' said Rebecca
Mastee, policy advocate for the Michigan Catholic Conference.
``The passage of this measure will help to reinforce Michigan's
standing as one of the strongest pro-life states in the
Twenty-three states restrict abortion coverage in plans offered
through their insurance exchanges, including eight that prohibit
private plans from covering the procedure. Seven of the eight _
except Utah _ allow consumers to purchase supplemental abortion
coverage for a fee, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a
research group that supports abortion rights.
Abortion is legal under the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision
from the U.S. Supreme Court.
In January, the American Civil Liberties Union ended its
legal challenge to a Kansas law restricting private insurance
coverage for abortions. A federal judge had ruled that the ACLU
failed to provide evidence that the Legislature's predominant
motivation in passing the 2011 law was to make it more difficult
to get abortions.