LANSING, MI — Legislators in Michigan have approved a proposal that essentially bars abortion insurance coverage in the state unless a woman specifically requests that the coverage be included in her plan.
As previously reported, 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. As none had filed a challenge against the proposal, it moved forward to the House and Senate for consideration.
“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.”
The organization asserted 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,” it outlined 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.”
But Planned Parenthood of Michigan expressed opposition to the initiative, stating that it served as “unprecedented government overreach into the private marketplace, not to mention the private lives of Michigan women and their families.”
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer likewise spoke out against the legislation, known as the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act, opining that the proposal is problematic for women who are raped, since the coverage must be purchased in advance.
“[This proposal] tells women who are raped … that they should have thought ahead and bought special insurance for it,” she stated. “The Republican male majority continues to ignorantly and unnecessarily weigh in on important women’s health issues that they know nothing about. … As a legislator, a lawyer and a mother of two girls, I think the fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive.”
But some legislators agreed with Michigan Right to Life that residents should not be forced to pay for abortion coverage if they disagree with the procedure.
“I don’t think elective abortion should be a part of insurance,” remarked Republican Represenative Nancy Jenkins. “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.”
Following debate, the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act was ultimately approved 27-11 in the Senate and 62-47 in the House. It is expected to go into effect in March, and does not require the signature of the governor.
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.