Lawmakers Begin Uphill Battle to Repeal Rape Insurance Law

Two Democratic lawmakers are following through on earlier pledges to overturn the law. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer said it’s “misogynistic” and “hurts all women.”

Sen. Gretchen Witmer, D-East Lansing, and Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, are sponsoring legislation to repeal Michigan's so-called "rape insurance law." (Patch file photo)
Sen. Gretchen Witmer, D-East Lansing, and Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, are sponsoring legislation to repeal Michigan's so-called "rape insurance law." (Patch file photo)

Some opponents to a law that requires Michigan women to buy a special health-insurance rider to cover abortions are using the legislature’s summer recess to drum up support for a measure that would overturn the controversial “rape insurance law.”

Sen. Gretchen Witmer, D-East Lansing, and Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, are sponsoring legislation to repeal the citizen-introduced law, MLive reports. The law requires special health-care coverage, even when abortions are the result of rape or incest.

The law was rushed through the legislature last December after Right to Life Michigan collected the 300,000 signatures necessary to put the measure before voters and avoid a potential veto from Gov. Rick Snyder, who turned back a similar law in 2012.

Diane Trombley, with Right to Life – Lifespan, helped get the measure passed.

“Those who oppose abortion do not want to have to pay for that procedure in a blanket coverage on an insurance policy,” Diane Trombley, a spokeswoman for Right to Life – Lifespan, told CBS Local. “The woman still has a right, in this state, to have an abortion – the only thing she has to do is to undertake the expense to do it.”

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Whitmer shared a personal story last winter, revealing that she had been raped 20 years ago as a college student.

Whitmer said has coped privately, she said, but thought it was important “for my Republican colleagues to see the face of the women they’re hurting by their actions today.”

“Thank God I didn’t get pregnant as a result of my own attack,” she said last winter, “but I can’t even begin to imagine now having to think about the same thing happening to my own daughters.”

After the bill passed, opponents said they would fight to see it overturned.

In a news conference Monday, Whitmer described the law as “misogynistic,” MLive said.

“This law hurts all women,” she said. “Not just women who are victims of incest or rape, or who experience the gut-wrenching effect of a miscarriage, but every single woman or man who has to make the decision about whether or not to pre-purchase abortion rider insurance for the women who are covered by their insurance, including their daughters."

Roberts said at the news conference that only seven of the 42 insurance companies offering health-care coverage offer optional abortion coverage. None of the seven companies offer coverage to the individual or through the federal health-care exchange, she said.

Joining the two legislators at the news conference was Dr. Timothy Johnson, a University of Michigan medical professor and obstetrician. He said the law is vague about what procedures will be covered and under what situations coverage will be provided.

"There's a lot of anxiety about what's covered and what's not covered," Johnson said. "There's confusion about what kinds of miscarriage may or may not be covered. There's also confusion in different kinds of hospitals, increasingly in Catholic hospitals. Doctors who practice there are concerned about what is the hospital law, what is the state law, how does this operate for me and how do I not get in trouble."

Roberts told CBS Local there’s little chance the legislature will hear the bill when the recess is over, but she thinks it’s important to continue to pressure lawmakers.

“We’ve made a commitment to the women who contacted us that we were going to do something about this and the very first thing that we need to do is to fight to repeal this law,” Roberts said.


ernesto June 17, 2014 at 08:12 PM
Another GOP law
MaryLynn Bertetto June 18, 2014 at 12:26 PM
Yay! Thanks for passing this law.
K. Scott June 18, 2014 at 12:55 PM
MaryLynn, how many are you adopting? or are you going to start employing the 15 and 16 year olds? Not to mention are you willing to go down South in Mississippi and tell some folks in the rural backwoods how it's wrong to have sex with their children? Because I have a friend who's job was to do this and if you don't think incest is going on today you are severally uninformed.
T as in Truth June 19, 2014 at 04:21 AM
K.Scott-You are correct.These people want to "force women to obey" their own personal moral code (or more likely the moral code that some extremist religion gave them). Once they "force women to obey" and the baby comes out, the false caring for that life ends and the mother (or society) is left to deal with the consequences created by the anti choicers. They truly don't give a rats back side about the new born baby as evidenced by all the children waiting/wanting to be adopted.


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