Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

May 24, 2013

Board OKs petition form for abortion proposal

LANSING (AP) — An anti-abortion group seeking to ban Michigan health insurance plans from covering abortions without a supplemental policy cleared an early hurdle Wednesday in its effort to take the proposal to voters, even without Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s approval.

Snyder vetoed similar legislation last year, citing concerns about government overreach in requiring optional riders for abortion coverage in private insurance plans and a lack of exceptions for rape and incest. But Snyder could be left out of the picture this time because voter-initiated legislation is veto-proof.

Barbara Listing, president of Right to Life of Michigan, which is seeking the initiative, told reporters that “people don’t want to pay for other people’s abortions.”

Under the proposal, individuals and businesses would have to buy an optional rider for elective abortion coverage under all private and public insurance plans. Abortions would be covered under primary plans when the mother’s life is at risk, but not in cases of rape and incest.

The Board of State Canvassers agreed Wednesday that the petition form started by a group called No Taxes for Abortion Insurance complies with state law. The group now has to collect more than 250,000 valid signatures by next spring. If enough signatures are deemed valid, the Legislature will have 40 days to pass or reject the proposal before it is placed on the ballot. Whether it’s approved by the Legislature or voters, it wouldn’t need Snyder’s signature to become law.

Asked about the proposal in an interview with The Associated Press in Washington Wednesday Snyder said it is part of the democratic process.

“Michigan’s constitution provides for this and I believe in following the constitution ... I don’t take it personal or anything. I just view it as democracy,” he said.

The abortion language was included in a broader bill last session that would have ended Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s tax-exempt status and turn it into a customer-owned nonprofit. Snyder said he made it clear when he vetoed the measure last year that he was open to reconsidering it if it was changed to address his concerns — by removing requirements for supplemental coverage for instances of rape and incest and ensuring that it doesn’t interfere with the private insurance marketplace.

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