Republicans in the Michigan House and Senate just passed a bill that will force women to decide whether or not they think they might be raped when buying health insurance. The so-called “rape insurance” legislation prohibits all public and most private insurance plans from paying for any abortions, unless the woman has previously and specifically before becoming pregnant bought additional coverage, known as a “rider.”
The law becomes effective 90 days after the legislative session ends, and was crafted as a “citizens initiative” to not require the governor’s signature, after he vetoed similar legislation last year. “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage, and, as a practical matter, I believe this type of policy is an overreach of government into the private market,” conservative Republican governor Rick Snyder had said last year upon announcing his veto.
But yesterday, the legislature passed the measure. Only three Democrats voted for the bill.
Among those Democrats opposed was Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who was so offended she offered a personally revealing story in the hope of killing the bill, which she labeled “one of the most misogynistic proposals I’ve ever seen in the Michigan Legislature.”
“I’m about to tell you something I’ve not shared with many people in my life,” Whitmer said through tears. “But over 20 years ago I was a victim of rape. And thank god it didn’t result in a pregnancy. Because I can’t imagine going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker.”
“If this were law then and I had become pregnant, I would not be able to have coverage because of this. How extreme does this measure need to be? I’m not the only woman in our state that has faced that horrible circumstance…. I think you need to see the face of the women you are impacting by this vote today.”
“The fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive,” she concluded.
Whitmer, as she spoke on the Senate floor, lambasted her Republican male colleagues “as they weigh in on issues that they know nothing about.” She paused and appeared to stare specifically at several Senators.
MSNBC notes Michigan is now one of “eight states that already have laws restricting abortion coverage in private insurance plans, including those sold on the exchange. Women on the state’s Medicaid are already barred from using it to cover abortion except in very narrow cases.”
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