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Published: Monday, 3/24/2014


Demoralizing democracy

Women's reproductive rights have suffered another blow in Michigan with a new law that limits access to insurance coverage for abortion.

The measure makes it illegal for public or private insurers to sell policies that cover abortion unless special coverage is purchased. So women who are raped, become victims of incest, or have life-threatening pregnancies must anticipate these atrocities before they occur if they expect abortion services to be covered.

Michigan Right to Life bullied Republican lawmakers, and a few Democrats, into passing the measure because the lobby has deep pockets and the ability to mobilize voters who oppose abortion rights to go to the polls. There was nothing moral or noble about the passage of this law. It is simply an assault on women by mostly male lawmakers who want to guarantee re-election this year.

Abortion is a personal and difficult decision. Forcing women to buy “rape insurance,” as it is called, is Draconian. Some states restrict abortion coverage in health insurance policies under the federal Affordable Care Act, but the Michigan Legislature has taken it a disturbing step further by imposing such restrictions on private insurance plans.

The argument by the law’s proponents that public money should not fund abortions is unsound. Only 3 percent of the 22,700 abortions in Michigan in 2012 were paid for with insurance, according to the most recent numbers from the state Department of Community Health.

More troubling, Right to Life sent this bill through the back door— based on a petition signed by just 4 percent of Michigan voters — so that it would not be subject to a gubernatorial veto.

Shame on the lawmakers who were complicit in this scheme. Though their elections are based on the democratic process, they clearly don’t play by the rules of democracy.

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