Because the Michigan GOP is letting them get away with it. And nothing about that is okay.
UPDATE on a new petition launched by Michigan Democratic leaders to fight the Right to Life initiative below.
There’s a good chance a petition signed by 4 percent of Michigan voters will become law, forcing women to purchase separate insurance in case they ever need an abortion. The governor has no veto power, and if Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature votes in support of the petition, it becomes law without the rest of Michigan’s voters having any say in it. Because of a quirk in Michigan law, this is completely legal.
The Michigan Legislature voted to pass similar legislation last year. Governor Rick Snyder vetoed it, saying it was a step too far — especially because there were no exceptions in cases of rape, incest or a clear risk to the mother’s life.
Right to Life of Michigan wasn’t one bit happy about that. So they put on their self-righteous walking shoes and collected enough petition signatures to bring this bill to the Legislature. The signatures amount to about 4 percent of Michigan voters(some estimates put it at 3 percent) — yet 53 percent of Michiganders say they oppose such legislation.
Organizations including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Michigan, as well as Michigan Democrats and healthcare providers, have been calling on Michigan Republicans to let the voters decide on this issue. Although it’s not a done deal yet, and you can still speak out against it, word is that Michigan Republicans are likely to enshrine it into law. Doing so makes it veto-proof and prevents the issue from being put on the November 2014 ballot.
So once again, Michiganders will have an extremist, minority agenda shoved down their throats. Right to Life of Michigan is in lockstep with anti-abortion fanatics in the Republican party, who only want small government when it suits them. They want religious liberty, but only when it comes to their faith — everyone else’s beliefs be damned.
Because they’re in sync with the GOP’s agenda, groups like Right to Life are given enormous power that doesn’t represent the views of the majority. I’m not saying the minority shouldn’t be heard — that’s what our democracy is all about — but they shouldn’t be able to manipulate elected officials and call all the shots.
Right to Life of Michigan’s position is that they oppose abortion, so they don’t want to pay for coverage for abortions through their insurance premiums. But as President and Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan Lori Lamerand said Thursday on “The Craig Fahle Show,” we all pay for coverage others use. We may never need that coverage and we might even disagree with procedures it covers. But that’s always been the reality of insurance. Everyone is part of the insurance pool.
Lamerand pointed out that some people don’t believe in blood transfusions, but they can’t opt out of paying for that coverage. In the Jewish faith, when faced with the unbearable decision of saving a fetus’ life or saving the mother’s life, the mother’s life takes precedence. What happens to the rights of Jewish women and women of other faiths if this bill becomes law?
I don’t particularly want to pay for someone to get a liver transplant if they’re not going to quit drinking. I don’t want to pay for a stranger’s Viagra. I don’t want to pay for people who use the emergency room as their doctor’s office because they refuse to buy insurance. But I do pay. Because that’s how insurance works.
Women shouldn’t have to justify having an abortion, which is still legal in the United States the last time I checked. It’s not a decision a woman ever takes lightly — especially when she wants a child but must abort it to save her own life. Sometimes, women make that decision because they want to spare a child with birth defects and only hours or days to live from enormous suffering. I can’t even imagine being raped and then having no choice but to carry that baby to term.
Right to Life of Michigan claims to be nonsectarian, but the term “right to life” is a Christian one. I am left to wonder, where is the mercy in these people’s hearts? Where is the grace to ease the suffering of others? Where is the belief that we should help our fellow men and women whenever we can? Every faith preaches love, tolerance and acceptance. That’s sorely lacking in the bullying of anti-abortion extremists, particularly those who think victimizing or even murdering abortion providers is just fine.
Michigan isn’t alone. Eight other states have similar legislation. It sets a frightening precedent, and not just for reproductive issues. Where loopholes like Michigan’s exist, any special interest group that gathers enough petition signatures could force their views on the rest of the state, if not the rest of the country. I staunchly support the right of everyone to practice the religion of their choosing, or none at all. But that doesn’t mean they get to tell everyone else what to believe.
This isn’t just a Michigan problem or a woman problem. It’s a democracy problem.
Whatever your beliefs are, religious or otherwise, the prospects of mob rule should terrify you. It’s happened in Michigan. It’s happened in Wisconsin. It’s happened in Colorado. The list goes on. It’s happening because too many people — especially Democrats — didn’t vote in 2010. They gave Republicans backed by special interests, big money and corporations the power to trample all over their rights using every trick in the book. Some of those tricks are now being challenged in the courts.
If you think it’s okay for one party to ignore the will of the people and be guided instead by the minority of citizens who share their ideology, you might want to think again. Because there could come a day when your rights will be the ones on the chopping block.
Tell your representatives to let Michigan voters decide. Contact them immediately, or send a message to the House and Senate leadership using this form from the ACLU of Michigan.
UPDATE, December 6: Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer and Senator Rebekah Warren have launched a petition to fight the initiative championed by Right to Life of Michigan. You can sign the petition at letmidecide.com.
[Graphic by Anne C. Savage | Special to Eclectablog.]