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.
Also on HuffPost:
A week before North Carolina Republicans turned to motorcycle safety, they attached proposed anti-abortion measures to <a href="http://www.ncleg.net/Applications/BillLookUp/LoadBillDocument.aspx?SessionCode=2013&DocNum=6635&SeqNum=0" target="_blank">a bill that would also have guarded the state</a> from "foreign law." The bill read much like a number of other anti-Sharia proposals that have popped up around the nation, except this one contained a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/02/north-carolina-abortion-bill_n_3537238.html" target="_blank">host of restrictions</a> on abortion coverage and providers.
When their abortion-Sharia combination effort failed, North Carolina Republicans concocted a new plan: Tack the anti-abortion measure onto something perhaps even less related. That <a href="http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S353v3.pdf" target="_blank">bill was initially meant</a> to increase penalties on drivers that threatened motorcyclists with their actions on the road. As of this week, it would also impose strict standards on abortion clinics and prohibit sex-selective abortions.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) injected abortion politics into an otherwise uncontroversial flood insurance bill in 2012. The legislation, initially meant to boost the National Flood Insurance Program on the cusp of hurricane season, was expected to pass, until Paul slid in a measure claiming that life begins at fertilization. Paul claimed he was justified in adding the amendment because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wouldn't allow a freestanding vote on fetal personhood. His measure <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/26/rand-paul-fetal-personhood-flood-insurance_n_1628128.html" target="_blank">eventually succeeded</a> in stalling the legislation.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/abortion/241421-sen-lee-files-abortion-amendment-to-cybersecurity-bill" target="_blank">filed an amendment to a 2012 cybersecurity bill</a> that would have imposed a 20-week abortion ban in Washington, D.C. The cybersecurity bill <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/post/cybersecurity-bill-fails-in-the-senate/2012/08/02/gJQABofxRX_blog.html" target="_blank">ultimately failed</a>, in part because senators <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/241851-cybersecurity-act-fails-to-advance-in-senate" target="_blank">couldn't reach a deal</a> on a host of amendments that had been appended to the bill.
Even a Homeland Security appropriations bill couldn't escape the reach of anti-abortion Republicans earlier this year. Attached to the GOP-controlled House's $46 billion spending bill was <a href="http://carter.house.gov/press-releases/chairman-carter-introduces-prolife-amendment-to-department-of-homeland-security-appropriations-bill/" target="_blank">Rep. John Carter's (R-Texas) measure</a> to block ICE from using agency funding to provide abortion services for detainees except in the case of rape, incest or if the life of the mother would be endangered. According to Barbara Gonzalez, an ICE spokeswoman, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/07/homeland-security-bill-passes-house_n_1579710.html" target="_blank">that was already department policy</a>, and Homeland Security had not paid for abortion services since its 2003 creation.
A very passable transportation bill was thrown a curveball in 2012 when Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) submitted an amendment that would have overridden the Obama administration's new contraception coverage rule and allowed any employer to refuse to cover any kind of health care service by citing "moral reasons." The Senate <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/blunt-amendment-vote-fails-senate-contraception_n_1313287.html" target="_blank">eventually rejected the proposal</a>, and after months of wrangling, the bill was passed by <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/post/congress-passes-two-year-transportation-bill/2012/06/29/gJQApmDtBW_blog.html" target="_blank">both the House and Senate</a>.
In 2011, then-Sen. Jim Demint (R-S.C.) took aim at Planned Parenthood with an amendment to an appropriations bill dealing with agricultural subsidies. His bill <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/10/19/sen-demint-takes-aim-at-planned-parenthood-robo-abortions/" target="_blank">would have ensured</a> that federal funding toward telemedicine services couldn't have been used by the women's health services provider. Planned Parenthood has tested a system that allows women seeking abortions to connect remotely with a qualified physician to discuss using mifepristone, or RU-486. Trials done in Iowa months before DeMint's amendment showed that <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/iowa-study-shows-telemedicine-abortion-safe-women-access/story?id=14166312#.Ud8L4j46VH0" target="_blank">the practice was safe</a>.
Business Tax Credits
In 2012, Republicans in the New Hampshire state House tried to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/15/new-hampshire-abortion-waiting-period_n_1519347.html" target="_blank">sneak an anti-abortion provision</a> into an unrelated bill regarding tax credits for businesses. Earlier in the year, lawmakers had voted down a GOP attempt to pass the abortion restrictions by themselves. The state Senate <a href="http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/05/25/new-hampshire-senate-kills-anti-abortion-measure-added-to-unrelated-bill/" target="_blank">ultimately shot down</a> the second attempt as well.