December 11, 2013 – Michigan lawmakers Approve Right to Life Abortion Insurance Initiative

On this day in history, Michigan lawmakers passed a measure banning all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion unless the woman’s life was considered to be in danger or unless a woman has already purchased coverage herself through a separate rider.

Not only that, but women must buy the rider before they become pregnant in order to have abortion coverage. Women who become pregnant through rape or incest must already have the rider in place for an abortion to be covered, leading some opponents to dub the riders, “rape insurance.”

“This tells women who were raped … that they should have thought ahead and planned for it,” said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) during debates. But supporters of the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” argued that it allows people who are opposed to abortion to avoid paying into a plan that covers it.

The Michigan State Legislature first passed the measure the previous year, but Governor Rick Snyder (R) vetoed it, saying he did not “believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”

But the anti-abortion group Right to Life of Michigan was able to collect more than 300,000 voter signatures on a petition to force a second vote on the measure. Having been passed by both chambers, the bill automatically became law, even without Snyder’s approval.

According to the Guttmacher Institute (dedicated to the advancement of sexual and reproductive health and rights through an interrelated program of research, policy analysis and public education), more state abortion restrictions were enacted in 2011–2013 than in the entire previous decade. Twenty-two states enacted 70 abortion restrictions in 2013; only 2011 saw more new abortion restrictions put in place in a single year. Moreover, 205 abortion restrictions were enacted over the past three years (2011–2013), compared with just 189 over the previous decade (2001–2010).

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