Mich. Lawmakers Approve Controversial Abortion Insurance Law

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One year to the day after Gov. Rick Snyder signed 'Right-to-Work' into law, another controversial bill became law Wednesday.

But this time it didn't need the governor's signature.

The Michigan House and Senate both voted to make it illegal for insurance companies to cover abortions unless the customer buys a separate rider.

The law started as a citizen-initiated petition--lead by Right to Life of Michigan--which means it will take effect without having to be signed by Gov. Snyder or appear on a statewide ballot.

Because it was a citizen-initiative petition and not a bill, Gov. Snyder cannot veto it.

Gov. Snyder did veto a similar measure passed by lawmakers last year, citing a lack of exceptions.

The initiative drew intense criticism from opponents before the vote, many of whom argued it should be an issue left up to voters.

Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon, said it didn't make sense to pass a law which was opposed by a large majority of Michiganders.

"This issue is out of step with Michigan voters," she said during her testimony.

"Michigan's ban is extremely extreme."

Hovey-Wright added the law offered a "false promise" because it doesn't require insurers to provide a rider. She vowed to work to overturn the new law.

Opponents have referred to it as "rape insurance" because there is no exception in the law for rape or incest, only an exception if the mother's life is in danger.

"This initiative injects the cold bureaucratic hand of government into the room when women and doctors are making medical decisions," said Rep. Kate Segal, D-Battle Creek.

The law applies to all insurance coverage, both public and private.

Republicans who have argued in support of the law say those who are morally opposed to abortions should not have to pay into premiums for polices which include the coverage for the procedures.

"Abortion is a personal choice made in many different circumstances but that choice shouldn't result in a bill to taxpayers," said Rep. Nancy Jenkins, R-Clayton.

Senate Minority Leader, Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, who admitted during her testimony Wednesday she had been raped 20 years ago said the issue is too important to bypass by the voters.

"They're trying to avoid a vote of the people," Whitmer said.

"It's really stunning that they're going to impact insurance for a hundred percent of the women in the State of Michigan with four percent of the people signing onto a petition."

House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall disagreed saying the petition was a fair representation of the majority of voters in the state.

"The Constitution, which was ratified after a vote by the entire state, provides for this opportunity for our citizens to petition our legislature," he said. "Those signatures came from 100 percent of the counties in the State of Michigan and we're charged to represent the full state.

Lawmakers however failed to give the law immediate effect which means it will not kick in until 90 days after the legislature adjourns, which is expected to be this coming March.

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