Legislative Action Chair, NOW GR
In 2013, Right to Life of Michigan formed a committee called Michigan’s Voice, which was intended to create a petition drive in the hopes that it would spur legislation that would ban all abortion coverage by insurance companies in Michigan – even in cases of rape, incest, and health of the mother. This measure was created as a direct parallel of S.B. 137-139 and H.B. 4065-4066, two extreme anti-abortion bills introduced in early 2013. The petition began on June 3rd and needed a total of 258,088 signatures in order to be certified. The drive ended with over 316,000 signatures on October 4th, and by December 2nd was signed into law by extreme conservative House and Senate legislators with votes overwhelmingly in favor for this disastrous bill.
Planned Parenthood and pro-choice partners worked diligently for months in order to put an end to this bill that was not only a direct attack on women’s rights, but an attack on women’s health, as well. Unfortunately, the overwhelmingly positive responses to the petition drive by anti-choice and Right to Life supporters defeated our efforts to curtail this initiative from becoming law. Now, all public and private insurance companies in the state of Michigan are no longer allowed to provide coverage for abortions. This includes if the pregnancy is a direct result of incest and/or rape, or the health of the mother is on the line – for example, if the woman had an intended, wanted pregnancy but then finds out that she has cancer, she will no longer have the insured option of deciding to terminate the pregnancy in order to pursue chemotherapy treatments.
Now, according to the bill, if a woman wishes to have an abortion, she must purchase an abortion rider. However, there is a catch: Michigan insurance companies do not have abortion riders. They are literally non-existent, and even if they did exist, one would have to purchase this rider ahead of time. Meaning that you must purchase a rider prior to the hypothetical event of rape, your health is at risk during a wanted pregnancy, or you decide to not have a child for any multitude of reasons.
Critical women’s health care is now on the line because of this punishing bill, one of the most restrictive in the nation regarding abortion and access to women’s health care. This bill came less than two months before the 41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made safe access to abortion care legal in the United States. Yet in recent years, we have seen some of the most restrictive bans diminishing access to abortion and women’s health care in history – including over 200 restrictions since the year 2010. Even though there is a long road ahead of us, the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, and women’s rights social justice activists throughout Michigan and nation-wide will not stop fighting for the indispensable rights of women. Remember this law, and remember the legislators who passed it, when you put your vote to use this November. Your vote will count, and will tell our legislators that we mean business: Women’s rights are fundamental rights, and that includes access to safe and legal health, reproductive, and family planning care.