Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

December 14, 2013

Opponents to target Mich. abortion law next year

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Incensed Democrats and abortion rights advocates are vowing that Republican lawmakers overreached so much with new restrictions on abortion coverage in Michigan's public and private health insurance plans that it will cost them in the 2014 elections.

A ballot drive to repeal or override the law is being considered. If enough signatures are collected, the statewide vote would coincide with November legislative races and keep the issue fresh in the minds of voters in 11 months.

While it's not unusual for emotions to remain raw in the days immediately after passage of any abortion law, the GOP struck a nerve that critics say will resonate long after the holidays.

Democratic women in the male-dominated Legislature felt compelled to tell their own personal stories during last week's floor debates, in part because no committee hearings were held on the Right to Life initiative that allows primary insurance plans to cover elective abortions only when a woman's life is at risk. Starting in March and once policies renew, an optional rider will have to be bought in advance to cover all other abortions, including those resulting from rape and incest.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, in a heart-rending plea against the bill, disclosed that she had been raped. She said she woke up the day after the vote feeling down but her spirits were lifted with a barrage of supportive calls, emails and Facebook messages from Democrats and Republicans, women and men, those who live in Michigan and elsewhere.

"The vast majority of people in this state don't want this ugly policy," the East Lansing Democrat said Friday. "A lot of them are extremely offended by it."

Those who unsuccessfully lobbied majority Republicans to sidestep the initiative and let voters approve or reject it next year say internal polling is on their side.

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