Democratic legislators demand hearings on women’s health rider repeal bills, while Republican Gov. Rick Snyder aligns with employer who sued over contraception coverage.
The distinctions between Michigan’s Democratic and Republican legislators are clearer every day, leaving no question about which party stands with women.
State Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer and State Representative Sarah Roberts have delivered letters to Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Insurance Committee Chair Rep. Pete Lund, respectively, to request hearings on Senate Bill 1010 and House Bill 5697, their legislation to repeal the discriminatory and dangerous women’s healthcare rider law passed in December 2013. Whitmer and Roberts introduced their legislation last month, but have received no indication that the Republican majorities in either body plan to take up the legislation.
What a surprise.
Republicans passed the law forcing women to buy a separate insurance rider to cover abortion services — even in cases of rape, incest or risk to the health of the mother. Not one Michigan insurer offers such a rider in the private insurance market, which denies women access to comprehensive healthcare services. The law was passed after Right to Life of Michigan gathered signatures for a citizen’s initiative. Legislators had a choice to adopt the measure or put it to the vote of the people. Despite a public outcry, Republicans caved to special interest pressure and passed it into law without a single committee hearing, thereby allowing 3 percent of the state’s population who signed the petition to dictate health care for Michigan women and their families.
It’s worth noting that many Republican Legislators running for re-election are endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan PAC — endorsements announced the day after many of the same Legislators co-sponsored fetal heartbeat bills that could deny women an abortion at any price just eight weeks after conception, if not earlier.
Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature isn’t even trying to hide their pandering to anti-choice extremists. Fortunately, Democratic lawmakers like Sen. Whitmer and Rep. Roberts are just as vocal about their support of women’s rights to make their own healthcare decisions.
Here’s what Rep. Roberts had to say in a statement about the hearings:
There are many things wrong with the women’s health rider law, from the way it unfairly punishes women who planned their pregnancy and are facing miscarriages due to fetal abnormalities, the lack of medical expertise sought when the language of the law was written to the way it was rammed through the Legislature with no testimony from those who will be directly — and adversely — affected by it.
These letters are simply asking for a fair review of the law. If Republicans and Right to Life of Michigan are as proud of this law as they claim, then they should be willing to hear from those it harms and defend it.
Democratic Legislators are equally concerned about making sure the voices of Michigan’s voters are heard, as Sen. Whitmer pointed out:
When this appalling ‘rape insurance’ law was passed, Republican legislators not only circumvented Michigan voters but the legislative process as well, passing the legislation without a single committee hearing or any opportunity for public testimony. We are only asking our colleagues that ignored the innumerable men and women, business owners, legal experts, doctors and nurses who opposed this law when it passed to listen to them now on its repeal.
In other reproductive health news in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder recently made a campaign stop at Autocam, a manufacturing company in West Michigan, to tout the success of the company. However, during his campaign stop at the new facility, Snyder made no mention of the fact that the company has been actively fighting against women’s right to healthcare and considered the recent U.S. Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision a victory.
Here’s what Sam Inglot, project director of SnyderFails, a project of Progress Michigan, had to say:
Gov. Snyder is aligning himself with businesses that want to force their religious beliefs on their employees. Acting in the best interests of big businesses at the expense of working people is what Gov. Snyder does best and here we have another example of that.
Given that Gov. Snyder has actively been a part of Michigan’s War on Women, it’s not surprising that Gov. Snyder would campaign at a corporation that won’t provide basic women’s health care coverage to its employees.
If you support women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services and equal treatment under the law, there should be no doubt which party shares your values.