Two Michigan lawmakers introduced state legislation to repeal a Michigan law that forces women to buy additional health insurance coverage for abortion, even in cases of rape or when a women’s health is endangered.

 

Michigan State Senator Gretchen Whitmer, the Senate Minority Leader, and State Representative Sarah Roberts, both Democrats, introduced the legislation this week. In December, the Michigan legislature passed a bill prohibiting insurance companies in the state from offering abortion coverage in both public and private health plans, except when the woman’s life is at risk, and requires employers and individuals who want coverage to buy extra policies.

“This regressive law hurts women when they are most vulnerable and puts unreasonable barriers between them and the health care they need,” said Roberts. “Prohibiting insurance companies and employers from doing what’s best for the women they serve and care for is wrong and must be stopped immediately.” 

Whitmer, who disclosed her own experience with sexual assault when fighting to garner opposition to the law, called  it “one of the most misogynistic laws I’ve ever seen.” She explained, “It’s downright insulting to expect Michigan women to anticipate and financially plan for rape, incest or a miscarriage. This law should never have been enacted in the first place, and wouldn’t have if it had gone to the voters of Michigan, but the time to repeal it is now.”

As intended, the law severely limits insurance coverage for comprehensive women’s reproductive health care. Michigan has 42 health insurers, but only 7 offer the supplemental abortion insurance rider. The rider, however, is also only available to a subset of Michigan women: those who have employer-sponsored health plans. According to Whitmer and Roberts, women who buy insurance on their own have no access to abortion coverage.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R ) vetoed the abortion insurance ban 2012, but pro-choice opponents, led by Michigan Right to Life, circumvented the veto and collected enough petition signatures to send the measure back to the legislature, which approved the ban largely along party lines. 

Media Resources: House Bill No. 5697 (2014); Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer Press Release 6/16/14; Feminist Newswire 12/12/13; Think Progress 12/12/14; MLive 12/28/12

 

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