When you don’t have the support of the voters of Michigan, you have to go around them. Or OVER them.
Graphic by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog.
Last May, I wrote about how the forced-birth group Right to Life of Michigan, furious that Governor Snyder had vetoed the “Plan Ahead for Your Abortion” legislation send to him by the legislature, was circulating petitions to do an end run around Governor Snyder and Michigan voters. This women-specific, women-only law requires women who want insurance coverage for abortions to purchase that coverage as a separate insurance rider. In other words, you have to plan ahead for your abortion. It’s such extreme legislation that even arch-conservative Michigan governor John Engler vetoed a similar law over a decade ago.
Right to Life was outraged that Governor Snyder didn’t follow the will of the extreme right ideologues in the state House and Senate and vetoed the legislation. So they are taking another, rather arcane (yet legal) approach. By submitting petition signatures of at least 8% of the number of votes for governor in the previous gubernatorial election, they can create an indirect initiated state statute which has the following characteristics (via BallotPedia):
- It is citizen-initiated, through the collection of signatures.
- Once the signatures are collected, the proposed law is sent to that state’s state legislature.
- Depending on the specific laws in that state, the state legislature typically can either choose:
- Not to act on the measure at all, in which case the measure is placed on the state’s statewide ballot and the voters decide its fate.
- To pass the law as written by the group that initiated it.
- To amend and then pass the law
- To come up with a law of its own addressing the same subject as the citizen-initiated measure and place that law on the ballot along with the citizen-initiated measure, allowing the state’s voters to choose the version they prefer.
In Michigan, only the first and second options are available. The number of signatures required is 8% of the number of votes for governor in the previous gubernatorial election.
If the petition contains a sufficient number of valid signatures the state legislature has 40 session days to adopt or reject the proposal. If the legislature rejects the law, then the measure is placed on the next general election ballot.
In this case, that meant that Right to Life needed 258,088 petition signatures, just 3.4% of the eligible voters of Michigan. They turned in 315,477 signatures yesterday. Given the extremist make-up of our legislature, it is very likely that, by year’s end, Michigan will have enacted yet another law to make it harder for a woman to obtain a safe, LEGAL abortion and it will have been done by gathering the signatures of just 4.2% of the state’s voters. The governor will not have a say and the other 95.8% of us won’t have a say.
It’s pretty astonishing.
The forced-birthers justify it by saying stuff like this:
It’s simply like nobody plans to have an accident, a car accident. Nobody plans to have their homes flooded. And you have to buy extra insurance for those things, too.
The absurdity of this argument belies their underlying motive of preventing women from choosing to have safe, LEGAL abortions. Their argument is the same as saying that you should have to buy separate health insurance just in case you have to be hospitalized after being mugged or just in case you get cancer. Becoming pregnant is not the same as having your basement flooded. If you have a flooded basement, you clean it up and life goes on. If you become pregnant with an unwanted baby and are forced to have that baby, two lives — the baby and the mother — are impact for the rest of their lives. Comparing this to a car accident or a flooded basement is ludicrous and offensive.
Even women who become pregnant after being raped would have to have this insurance rider in place. Otherwise, they will pay out of pocket for the procedure, victimized a second time thanks to Michigan’s forced-birthers.
By the way, this law doesn’t just pertain to health insurance offered by the state government. This law affects EVERY health insurance policy sold in Michigan whether it’s a public or private insurance company. Once again, Republican hypocrites want smaller government, a free market, and local control only when they agree with the outcome. When it comes to imposing their religious views and so-called morality on the rest of the state, no government is too large and no law is too intrusive. That’s especially true when it comes to the treatment of women who are viewed by many Republicans as having no more ability to make decisions about their own healthcare and their own bodies than children.
It’s another battle in the War on Women and the forced-birthers of Right to Life of Michigan have one.
Are you getting involved to support a HUGE Democratic win in Michigan in 2014? If not, you should change that because this sort of thing can only be stopped by having a majority in at least one house of the legislature.