ACTION: Want a say in Michigan’s reproductive health laws? Be heard — NOW

If you don’t want 4 percent of Michigan’s voters making decisions for everyone, it’s time to speak out.


Right to Life of Michigan has garnered enough signatures to force through an initiative that would forbid insurers from offering abortion coverage unless women buy a separate rider in advance — even in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother. The heavily pro-life Michigan Legislature can either vote to enshrine this into law or abstain and put it to a vote of the entire state in November 2014.

The signatures gathered by Right to Life of Michigan represent just 4% of voters (3% by some estimates), although polls show that about 53% of Michiganders oppose such a measure. And rightly so. Forcing women to plan ahead for abortions is an affront to women and to the freedoms of Michiganders who don’t share Right to Life of Michigan’s beliefs.

As I wrote here earlier this week, the choice about having an abortion should be a personal one. The issue raised by Right to Life of Michigan should be one for all of Michigan’s voters to decide — not just a small minority that happens to have the Michigan GOP in their back pockets.

That’s why Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer and Senator Rebekah Warren have launched a petition to fight this initiative, so the issue can be brought before all of Michigan’s voters. You can sign the petition at LetMIDecide.com.

Here’s what Senator Whitmer said about the initiative and subsequent petition drive:

This proposal is a blatant attack on women’s health care and the fact that it purposely lacks exceptions for women who are victims of rape and incest illustrates how callous it truly is. It’s imperative that the Governor fulfills his responsibility as the head of our state government and leader of the Republican Party by urging this Legislature to abandon this issue and leave it to the people of Michigan to decide.

Signing this new petition can help ensure that the voice of the majority is heard, said Senator Warren:

This is an initiative that was supported by only 4% of Michigan’s population but would dictate the insurance options for 100% of women in our state. With this grassroots petition drive, we can show our legislative leaders just how many of our citizens are willing to stand up and fight against this latest attack on women’s rights.

It’s not just an issue for women. It impacts men, too, who may be making the difficult decision about abortion with their wives or partners. It affects physicians, too, who may find themselves unable to guide their patients in making the best decisions for their health because abortion won’t be an option for women who can’t afford it.

Right to Life of Michigan claims that abortion is not healthcare — but healthcare providers know the truth.

The Executive Board of the Michigan Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists spoke out on the ACLU of Michigan blog, asserting that the Right to Life of Michigan initiative “will endanger women’s access to comprehensive healthcare throughout the state.”

It’s not just about access. It’s about the health and lives of Michigan women. Here are excerpts from the full post:

We strongly oppose any proposal that would prevent insurance companies from covering medically-necessary abortion services that save women’s lives.

This is not merely a political issue: pregnancy-related complications are within the top ten causes of death for women under 35. It is extremely disturbing that excluding coverage for one of the leading causes of death in the country is even being considered in our state.

Supporters of this proposal believe that women should have to buy additional, separate insurance for abortion care. We cannot imagine telling a victim of rape or a pregnant woman learning that her child will not survive that she should have had the foresight to purchase extra insurance to cover her medical care.

What’s more, the dilation and curettage (D&C) procedure used to perform first-trimester abortions is often used to diagnose and treat other women’s health conditions, such cancer or heavy bleeding, as well as removal of tissue after a miscarriage or the birth of a baby. If a law that prevents abortion coverage doesn’t specifically exclude these other procedures, would that limit women’s access to those services, too? It’s a question there won’t be time to consider if this legislation is rushed through.

As in the lawsuit recently filed by the ACLU of Michigan on behalf of a woman who was denied care after a miscarriage because the Catholic hospital she was admitted to refused to help her, letting religious views override personal and professional medical decisions is a dangerous, slippery slope. Right to Life of Michigan also opposes living wills, which means people who don’t have anyone to grant durable power of attorney to won’t have a choice if they’re unable to speak for themselves as they lay dying, possibly in wordless suffering.

The real issue at stake here is the fact that decisions should not be dictated by a vocal minority. They should be made by the voice of all the people. In this case, that means a vote at the ballot box.

The Michigan Legislature could take up this vote any day, and the Michigan GOP’s penchant for rushing legislation through without careful thought — and before citizens have time to object — is well established. Don’t let that happen. SIGN THE PETITION and let your voice be heard.

Senator Whitmer spoke with MSNBC’s Craig Melvin about this issue on Saturday. Watch the clip here.

[Photo credit: Mikasi | Flickr]

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