A law passed in Michigan last week that bans insurance plans from paying out for most abortions has led to backlash. Under the law, only women whose lives are in danger will have the procedure covered by insurance. Women who become pregnant due to rape or incest are not eligible for coverage under the law unless they purchase a rider that covers abortions. For this reason, it has been nicknamed the “rape insurance” bill.
The bill, properly called the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act,” passed 27-11 in the Senate and 62-47 in the House. The law will go into effect March of next year.
Opponents Speak Out Against Bill
State Senator Gretchen Whitmer expressed her displeasure over the bill after it was passed. “This tells women that were raped and became pregnant that they should have bought special insurance for it… This is by far one of the most misogynistic proposals I’ve ever seen in the Michigan legislature.”
The bill’s supporters say that under the new law, people who are against abortion won’t have to put money towards plans that cover it.
A similar bill last year was on its way to becoming law when Governor Rick Synder vetoed it, saying that it was not “appropriate” to force women to get riders to cover abortions. The anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan gathered 300,000 petition signatures in an effort to bring the issue to a vote again. As this bill is the result of a citizens’ initiative, it became law after passing both chambers even without Governor Snyder’s signature.
Over 20 States Have Passed Similar Measures
Although Michigan has gotten a lot of attention in the past week – possibly due in part to the bill’s “rape insurance” nickname – it is not the first state to pass something like this. Currently, several states restrict or ban plans from covering abortion, or plan to in the future.
In 2010, Michigan Representative Bart Stupak was a key player in the heated debates over healthcare reform. He wanted restrictions on abortion coverage and settled for a compromise where Obama signed an executive order addressing how federal money would be used for abortions. This means that the Affordable Care Act allows states to opt out of covering abortion in health plans. So far, a large number of states have taken advantage of that.
Ignoring for the moment the fact that abortion riders don’t exist yet in the state, where does that leave the women of Michigan? They will either have to pay out of pocket or purchase a rider – if they can. Employers may choose not to offer it, which means some women will have no choice but to pay out of pocket for the procedure (which can cost from $300 to $10,000 for later term abortions) if they have one.
Women covered under Medicare are in a better position: Medicare covers abortion in the cases of rape and incest or when the woman’s life is threatened.