Michigan lawmakers passed a controversial measure on Wednesday that will ban all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion unless the woman's life is in danger. The law, which takes effect in March, will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest.
Supporters of the "Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act" argue that it allows people who are opposed to abortion to avoid paying into a plan that covers it. Opponents have nicknamed it the "rape insurance" initiative, because it would force some women to anticipate the possibility of being raped by purchasing the extra abortion insurance ahead of time.
“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. “Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens' initiative. It’s a special interest group’s perverted dream come true.”
The Michigan State Legislature first passed the measure last year, but Governor Rick Snyder (R) vetoed it, saying he does 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 this year to force a second vote on the measure. Having been passed by both chambers, the bill automatically becomes law now, even without Snyder's approval.
More than 80 percent of private insurance plans currently cover abortions, the New York Times reported, citing research organization the Guttmacher Institute. Eight states have passed similar laws banning the insurance coverage of abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, but only two of them have actually made the abortion rider available to women.
Several Democratic women lawmakers became emotional during debates on Wednesday as they told personal stories of miscarriage and abortion, and State Rep. David Knezek (D) blasted the measure as misogynistic.
"This body made up of 80 percent men will make a decision that will impact 100 percent of women," he said.