Petition Gathers 315,000 Signatures for Abortion 'Riders'

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Volunteers from Right to Life Michigan marched triumphantly Friday with handcarts, holding more than 40,000 pages of paper, containing more than 315,000 petition signatures. That petition would allow the state of Michigan to "opt out" of a clause of the Affordable Care Act that allows abortion insurance coverage to be come standard on the federal healthcare marketplace.

"You're going to be able to get abortion coverage in your insurance if you want it," said Ed Rivet, legislative director of Right to Life Michigan. "You can proactively select it in your insurance coverage. If you believe in abortion, if you support abortion, if you think you might choose an abortion someday, you might want to buy the optional rider. For those of us who don't believe or support abortion or don't want to pay for it with our tax dollars, this is the right law."

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- informally known as Obamacare -- does not allow tax dollars and federal money to fund elective abortions. Nor does it require states to require abortion to be a part of insurance plans on the federal marketplace.

Hundreds of volunteers canvassed the state to come up with the signatures two months ahead of schedule.

The Right to Life petition doesn't ban insurance coverage for abortions. But if the bill were to become law, the women seeking an abortion in all cases -- excluding when the woman's life is in danger -- would be required to purchase insurance.

"To me as a woman, I think it's really sad that Right to Life is continuing to compare this to buying extra insurance for a flood or for a car accident," said Jessica Tramontana, communications director at Progress Michigan. "Rape is never an accident and I don't think any woman should have the burden of purchasing extra insurance just on the off chance she's the victim of a crime."

Right for Life has attempted to pass similar petitions three times before. Each time they were vetoed by a Republican governor. But Right to Life is optimistic this time will be the charm. Rivet says he already knows he has the support of enough legislators to make it law.

The petition must first be checked by the Secretary of State to validate the signatures. If verified -- a process that normally takes 6-8 weeks -- the bill would move to the state legislature, where each chamber would have 40 calendar days to act.

If a simple majority in each chamber approves the bill, it will become a law. If they don't act, the issue will be put to the voters.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood said if the voters had their say, the measure would fail, noting that the signatures obtained only represent three percent of registered voters.

"Two Republican governors in a row have vetoed this legislation and I think that speaks volumes about what a bad bill this is," said Tramontana. "It's bad for women in Michigan and it's bad for Michigan in general."

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