Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

December 4, 2013

Lawmakers weigh passing or ignoring abortion insurance measure

LANSING (AP) — A citizen-initiated proposal that would require separate insurance for abortions landed in the Republican-led Legislature on Tuesday, with both sides immediately pressuring lawmakers to either pass it or leave it to voters.

People who oppose abortion and were born as a result of rape visited the Capitol to tell their stories, saying their lives were worth saving. And Democrats who support abortion rights recounted the story of a woman who terminated her pregnancy after learning her fetus had a brain malformation and was unlikely to survive full-term.

The initiative before the House and Senate would cover abortions under primary insurance plans only to save a woman’s life, but not when her health is at risk or in cases of rape and incest. Employers and individuals could buy a rider to cover abortion services, though insurers and employers wouldn’t be required to offer such a rider.

The measure can be passed without the signature of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who vetoed similar legislation last year in part because there wasn’t a rape exception. They are likely to pass the measure within 40 days while in session, but if they don’t, it goes to a statewide vote next November.

“We are people, we are not exceptions,” Mary Rathke, a 34-year-old from Essexville whose birth mother was raped, told reporters in a news conference organized by Right to Life of Michigan.

She accused Snyder of ignoring children conceived in rape but saved most of her ire for abortion rights activists and Democrats who “use people like us to defend abortion being included in everyone’s health care plan.”

Senate Democrats, though, didn’t back down from their contention that the proposal would require “rape insurance” and is the most “misogynistic” measure they’ve seen.

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