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Petition drive will seek to ban automatic abortion coverage in Michigan

Rick Pluta
Michigan Public Radio

A state elections board has given the go-ahead to a petition drive that would enact a restriction on abortions.

The initiative would ban abortion coverage as a part of basic insurance policies.

Instead, customers and businesses that offer employee coverage would have to buy a separate rider for insurance coverage.

The effort seeks to enact a requirement that was vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder.

If the drive succeeds, the Legislature could adopt the law without the threat of a veto.

Here is the summary language that will be circulated on the petition. (To read the entire proposed law, go to the second page of the petition.)

An initiation of Legislation to enact the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. The initiated law would require the purchase of coverage for elective abortion in a health care plan to be by an optional rider only; require notice to employees for whom elective abortion coverage is purchased by their employer; and provide penalties for violations of this act. If not enacted by the Michigan State Legislature in accordance with the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the proposed legislation is to be voted on at the General Election, November 4, 2014.

Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press explains further:

If the proposal becomes law, it would require all private and public health insurance plans to offer a separate rider for an abortion. And a person would have to buy that rider before knowing if they need an abortion or not. They would not be able to buy the rider after getting pregnant by any means, including rape or a late-term miscarriage.

President of Right to Life Michigan Barbara Listing said the proposed law is good public policy. She said people should not have to pay for abortion coverage if they object to the procedure.

"The private insurance companies, all insurance companies, really include it, most of them, almost all of them really include it in their insurance policies. I think most people don’t know that,” said Listing.

You'll likely see the petitions being circulated this summer.

Gray reports pro-choice activists say the effort is an attack on women's health and the activists will be out "making sure people know what they’re signing."

If the campaign succeeds in collecting enough signatures (at least 258,088 valid signatures), the proposed law will go to the Legislature for a vote.

If the Legislature votes it down, then it would appear on the ballot for voters to weigh in on.

You can read more about "indirect initiative statutes" here.

*this post has been updated

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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