The Michigan Legislature has approved a petition initiative that will require people to buy a separate health insurance policy for abortion coverage. The initiative passed with commanding Republican majorities in the House and the Senate. A handful of Democrats also voted yes.
State Representative Amanda Price (R-Holland) said people who object to abortion should not be forced to help pay for it in their insurance premiums.
“No matter how one frames the issue before us, abortion is an individual choice,” she said. “I will say that again: abortion is an individual choice.”
The new law will take effect in March. Very few policies in Michigan currently cover abortions. But opponents say it will unfairly punish women with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies, or with medical emergencies.
During the debate, lawmakers, sometimes tearfully, shared personal stories of miscarriages and rape. They say treatment for them would not have been covered under the initiative.
State Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer says she was raped in college, and does not know what she would have done if she had gotten pregnant as a result of the assault.
“I think you need to think of the girls that we are raising and what kind of state we want to be – where you would put your approval on something this extreme,” she said.
Democratic state Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright predicted political consequences for lawmakers who supported the initiative.
“Do not under-estimate the power of a lot of angry women and the men who support us.”
The initiated law cannot be vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder, who rejected a similar measure last year because it did not allow exceptions for cases of rape or incest. It could be challenged via another petition drive.