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Michigan Right to Life wants to prevent insurance companies from covering abortion

The Huffington Post

Michigan Right to Life is circulating a petition to prohibit health insurance companies from covering abortions. Individuals who want abortion coverage would have to buy an optional rider in addition to their insurance policy.

If the petition receives enough signatures and the Legislature approves the measure, it would become law without the governor's approval. If the Legislature doesn't act on the measure, it would be voted on by the public.

Pam Sherstad with Michigan Right to Life says only those who want abortion coverage should pay for it.

"This has nothing to do with the legality of abortion. It has everything to do with who pays for abortion, and so now it will be the choice of the people who are purchasing their health care," she said. They can choose to purchase a rider to pay for abortion. It's that simple."

Michigan Right to Life decided to circulate the petition in anticipation of the Affordable Care Act, which goes into full effect next year. Sherstad says under the federal healthcare law, taxpayer dollars could fund abortion coverage.

Obamacare includes a provision that allows states to opt out of providing abortion coverage. Twenty-two states have chosen to opt out, and Sherstad hopes Michigan will become the 23rd. President Obama signed an executive order in 2010 that prohibits taxpayer money from paying for abortions.

Critics of the petition say the legislation would restrict access to abortion, and has no exceptions for rape or incest.

Megan Growen with Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan says the proposed legislation is redundant since there are already laws in place that prevent taxpayer money from funding abortion. She fears it could restrict access to abortions in the state.

"[The optional rider] is something that is very much outside of the marketplace. It is generally included in insurance plans," Growen said. "When you purchase insurance you are anticipating that it will cover you in a wide variety of circumstances including accidental and tragic situations where you were raped."

Governor Snyder vetoed a similar bill last year. He said it interfered with the insurance market. He also felt the legislation was too extreme since it does not include exceptions for rape and incest.

-Sarah Kerson, Michigan Radio Newsroom