healthcare, Michigan Democrats, War on Women, Women — October 17, 2014 at 9:02 am

Michigan Democrats introduce bills to protect women’s health


Legislation would safeguard not only the life of the mother, but also the health of the mother in a problem pregnancy.

There are many troubling aspects to the Michigan law requiring women to buy a special insurance rider to cover abortion services, but the most upsetting to me is the fact that there is no exception for the health of the mother — only the life of the mother. In fact, her life must be at imminent risk for the law’s exception to apply. The risk of a permanent health issue or disability doesn’t qualify.

Three Michigan Democratic State representatives have introduced legislation to change that, along with other aspects of the law that are physically and emotionally harmful to women.

Marcia Hovey-Wright, Gretchen Driskell, and Sarah Roberts have introduced bills that will protect the health of women and make it easier for women who becomes pregnant after rape or incest to get critical medical services.

The bills would amend Michigan’s unfair women’s health care rider law by eliminating the need to buy an extra insurance policy to cover abortion when one is needed to preserve a woman’s health due to a pregnancy complication or to end a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest. Currently, women in these situations have to purchase the extra insurance rider before a sexual assault or health-threatening pregnancy takes place in order to have health insurance cover the often-costly medical procedures.

Rep. Hovey-Wright, the sponsor of the bill to create an exemption for the health of the mother, explains:

There are serious cases when a women’s health is put at risk during complications in a pregnancy, and many of these are not covered under the law. This discriminatory law is just another example of out-of-touch Lansing Republicans making decisions for women when they have no idea of how a women’s health can be put at serious risk. My bill adds reasonable, common-sense protections to women across the state and the law should be amended immediately to protect women.

As the law currently stands, the extra women’s healthcare rider is needed in order to have insurance cover any abortion, unless it threatens a woman’s life. The law’s refusal to make exceptions for a woman’s health, rape or incest made the law so extreme that two Republican governors previously vetoed similar laws. The current law was passed when Republican legislators caved in and passed a veto-proof citizen’s initiative.

The companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Driskell, would add an exemption from purchasing the extra rider for women who became pregnant following a rape or incest incident.

Rep. Driskell makes a good case for the importance of this legislation:

Women who have been raped or endured incest have already survived horrible events that most of us can’t even imagine. To tell a woman who became pregnant after those hideous acts that she must continue a pregnancy or pay thousands of dollars for medical care out of her own pocket is cruel and insensitive. We must do the right thing and protect women who are in such a painful and unimaginable situation. These bills bring compassion and justice to women who need it most, and I urge our colleagues to do the right thing and support these bills.

Rep. Roberts authored a previously introduced bill to repeal the discriminatory women’s health rider law altogether.

The new restrictions on women’s healthcare are so extreme that they make no exceptions for the health of a woman, or a woman who needs to end a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest. It was wrong to make a woman put her own health at risk to satisfy an extreme special interest, and it was wrong to punish a woman when she is at her must vulnerable, following a brutal attack. While repealing the unfair restrictions on women’s health care remains our goal, these bills at least make the existing law a little more humane.

Democrats only need to win five seats to take back control of the Michigan House — which would make it much easier to pass legislation like this that puts women above special interests. Yet one more reminder why voting on November 4th is essential for every Democrat in Michigan.