Michigan Considers Ballot Initiative Allowing Residents to Opt-Out of Abortion Insurance Coverage

Contract pdLANSING, MI — Officials in Michigan are considering a ballot initiative that would allow residents to opt-out of purchasing abortion insurance by selling the coverage under a separate rider.

Michigan Right to Life filed the initiative last month, submitting 315,477 signatures to the office of the Secretary of State—well above the 258,088 required. It cleared its first hurdle last week as none had filed a challenge against it.

“The people of Michigan have spoken clearly that they do not want tax dollars or health insurance premiums paying for abortion,” spokesperson Pam Sherstad told MLive. “This doesn’t have to do with legalized abortions, it just has to do with who pays for it.”

A similar bill had been approved by the legislature last year, but was vetoed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder.

The new proposal, known as the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act, is expected to be considered by the State Board of Canvassers on Monday, who will certify the signatures deemed as valid. The initiative will the move to the state legislature, where lawmakers have the choice to take up the bill for a vote, or let it go to the people at the polls during the November 2014 election.

Michigan Right to Life is urging supporters to contact their legislators and encourage them to vote yes on the petition.

“Tell your legislators: …. Abortion is not health care; abortion kills a living, developing human being,” a flyer created by the organization states. “Abortion should not be included as a standard ‘benefit’ in health insurance plans.”

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Planned Parenthood of Michigan has expressed opposition to the initiative, stating that it serves as “unprecedented government overreach into the private marketplace, not to mention the private lives of Michigan women and their families.”

Democratic lawmakers have also stated that they plan to fight against the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act if their Republican counterparts choose to take up the measure for a vote. They state that the bill is a problem in that women would be required to buy the insurance not knowing whether or not it would ever be used.

“Requiring women to plan ahead for the possibility of getting raped by purchasing an optional insurance rider is just flat out offensive,” Bob McCann, spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, told reporters.

However, Michigan Right to Life states that the majority of Michigan residents find it offensive that they should be required to pay for another woman’s abortion.

“Polls taken during the debate on health care reform consistently showed strong opposition to the funding of abortion in health insurance plans,” the organization outlines on its website. “Regardless of their views regarding the legality of abortion, the great majority of voters do not want to pay for abortions with their tax dollars in public plans, or subsidize abortion through their premium dollars in private plans.”

Currently, six states have made abortion coverage optional, available only by being purchased under a separate rider. As previously reported, the Affordable Care Act also exempts members of Christian health sharing ministries, of which there are three: Medi-Share, Samaritan Ministries and Christian Healthcare Ministries.

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