Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 8, 2013

Editorial: State voters should decide on Right to Life proposal

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — George Orwell would be proud.

Ed Rivet, the legislative director of Right to Life of Michigan, recently showed his mastery of doublespeak, a variation on the “doublethink” and “newspeak” Orwell created in his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

Rivet was talking about a Right to Life petition that would force women to buy a separate health insurance policy to cover elective abortions. Abortions would be covered under primary plans when the mother’s life is at risk, but not — incredibly — in cases of rape and incest.

Whether you believe women should have the right to choose to have an abortion or not — and abortion is legal in the United States — forcing a woman to carry to term a baby conceived by rape or incest is barbaric. It’s reminiscent of the crazy claims of a couple of Republicans who last year said babies conceived during a rape were a “gift from God.”

We’re not sure what god they were referring to, but chances are pretty good that’s not the way the vast majority of Americans think.

That leads back to Mr. Rivet and his claim that the petition process — “scheme” may be a better word — being used by Right to Life is “... straight democracy enacting a law.”

In fact, the process could hardly be further from “straight democracy.” Straight democracy is when voters cast a ballot on a piece of public policy, not these shenanigans.

Right to Life collected 315,477 signatures on petitions that call for the abortion proposal to be on the 2014 ballot. But state law allows the Legislature to vote on the issue before it ever gets to the people; if it’s approved by the Republican-dominated House and Senate, as it almost surely will be, it will go into effect, even without the signature of Gov. Rick Snyder.

The governor last year vetoed similar legislation that had been tucked into a broader bill, citing concerns about government overreach in requiring optional riders for abortion coverage in private insurance plans (does Obamacare come to mind?). He also objected to the lack of exceptions for rape and incest. So Right to Life went around him.

Using Rivet’s math, getting 300,000-plus people to sign a petition and then circumventing the ballot box is democratic. That’s doublespeak. In 2012, more than 4.6 million Michigan residents cast ballots in the presidential election. So what about the other 4.3 million?

If Right to Life cares at all about democracy — and believes in its cause — it should let the issue go to the ballot and let the people of Michigan decide, yes or no. That’s democracy.