Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 3, 2013

Another View: 'Balance' tilts against women's rights

By The Detroit Free Press
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---- — In signing one bill that imposes new restrictions on abortion providers while vetoing a second that would have eliminated insurance coverage for many abortions, Gov. Rick Snyder insisted last week he was trying to strike a balance between women's rights and his own opposition to most abortions.

But the more Snyder explains himself, the more apparent it is that those who seek to restrict Michigan women's access to safe, legal abortions have found a staunch ally in the governor's mansion.

Snyder vetoed part of a two-bill package that would have transformed Blue Cross Blue Shield into a nonprofit insurer. The Blue Cross legislation Snyder supported didn't even mention abortion, but during their lame-duck rampage, Republican lawmakers added a provision that would have left every Michigan woman without insurance coverage for abortion-related services unless she purchased an opt-in abortion rider at additional expense.

Snyder said he'd decided to veto the amended bill after concluding it improperly extended the opt-in requirement to private insurers and failed to provide exceptions authorizing abortion coverage in the event of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother. But he added he'd gladly sign legislation that denied abortion coverage to women who purchase insurance on a public health exchange, unless they purchase an optional rider or qualify under one of the three exceptions. Clearly, he's more concerned about the prerogatives of private insurers than about those of pregnant women.

Snyder's decision to sign another bill is even more troubling. That bill requires medical professionals to redouble their efforts to make sure women seeking abortions haven't been unduly coerced, and is consistent with his lifelong opposition to bullying of all sorts, Snyder said. But he conceded his only evidence that coerced abortions are going undetected was "anecdotal" — a telling admission for a politician who likes to boast of data-driven decisions.

It also would require providers who advertise abortion services and perform more than 120 procedures a year to meet new licensing requirements. Snyder said he's pretty sure the new rules will impact only "10 to 20" providers across the state; there are only 32 abortion clinics in Michigan.

Requirements Snyder signed into law are aimed at reducing the number of abortion providers in the state and expanding the arsenal of tactics available to intimidate women seeking an abortion.

One thing is becoming clear: The Snyder who soft-pedaled his own view about abortion in 2010 bears little resemblance to the governor who sits in Lansing today.

When it comes to advancing his party's extreme right-wing agenda, Snyder has gone from being a sheepish fellow-traveler to a full-throated supporter.

Detroit Free Press