Traverse City Record-Eagle


December 12, 2013

State puts restrictions on abortion insurance

LANSING (AP) — Michigan will join more conservative states in requiring residents who want health insurance coverage for abortions to buy an extra policy, after Republican legislators passed the law Wednesday over the objections of Democrats who pleaded for them to take the issue to voters instead.

The citizens’ initiative approved 62-47 by the House and 27-11 in the Senate — almost entirely along party lines — will become law in March without the signature of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who vetoed similar legislation a year ago. The anti-abortion group Right to Life collected more than 300,000 signatures to put the legislation before lawmakers, who also had the option of letting it go to a statewide vote next November.

The law prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of both public and private health plans, except when a woman’s life is at risk. Employers and individuals who want abortion coverage must buy supplemental policies, known as riders.

Michigan is the ninth state to restrict private plans from covering the procedure. Seven of the states — Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma — allow patients to purchase riders, just as Michigan will. Utah doesn’t allow even supplemental coverage of elective abortions but lets general plans cover the procedure when the woman’s life in endangered, her health is severely compromised or in cases of rape, incest or fetal impairment.

Several conservative states have approved broad abortion limits in recent months, but Michigan is a swing state that has generally stayed away from the tougher restrictions.

Michigan’s law won approval after emotional debate on the chamber floors, which included Democratic female legislators telling personal stories in opposition to what they called “rape insurance” legislation that is among the most misogynistic they have seen.

Trying to hold back tears, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing disclosed that she was raped more than 20 years ago.

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