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Michigan Legislature bans abortion coverage in standard insurance plans

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
The Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.

State Representatives in the House voted and passed the Right to Life voter-initiated law that bans abortion coverage in standard insurance plans.

That means starting in March, Michiganders will have to buy an additional rider should they want abortion coverage from their overall health plan.

The House passed it on a 62-47 vote. The Michigan Senate passed it around 30 minutes earlier.

During the debate, lawmakers shared highly personal stories.

“I think you need to think of the girls that we are raising and what kind of state we want to be – where you would put your approval on something this extreme,” said State Sen.  Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing), who said she was raped 20 years ago.  

But supporters of the legislation said people who object to abortion should not be forced to help pay for it in their insurance premiums.

“No matter how one frames the issue before us, abortion is an individual choice," said State Rep. Amanda Price (R-Park Twp.).

Governor Snyder vetoed similar legislation last year. Since this is a voter-initiated law, the Governor cannot veto it.

More from the Detroit News:

The initiated law contains no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest and will go into effect in mid-March. Other Senate Democrats decried the legislation in passionate Senate floor speeches, saying it would require women to purchase “rape insurance.” “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. “Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens initiative. It’s a special interest group’s perverted dream come true.” No Senate Republicans stood to argue in favor of the initiative.

Republicans who supported law said they did so out of fairness. More from the Detroit Free Press:

Republicans in the House said it shouldn’t be the responsibility of taxpayers to subsidize the procedure either through their tax dollars or insurance premiums. “I don’t think elective abortion should be a part of insurance,” said state Rep. Nancy Jenkins, R-Dover Township. “This doesn’t affect access to abortion. It will still be legal when this law takes affect. Who should be required to pay? Not Michigan taxpayers.”

5:06 p.m.

The state Senate has approved Right to Life of Michigan's petition that would ban abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. The vote was 27-11 with Sen. Tupac Hunter of Detroit the lone Democrat to vote "yes". A vote in the state House is expected soon.

Voter-initiated laws are not subject to a governor's veto.

We'll keep you posted on how the state House votes.

If it passes, it looks like voters will be faced with a petition drive to repeal the ban next November.

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