healthcare, Michigan Democrats, Women — June 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Democrats reintroduce legislation to repeal Michigan’s controversial abortion law


Sponsors call the law “cruel and unnecessary” and are fighting to restore women’s full access to healthcare.

In 2013, Michigan made national news — and not in a good way — for passing a law that forces women to buy additional health insurance for necessary medical care during a miscarriage or abortion, even in cases of rape and when the woman’s health is in jeopardy. The legislation was signed into law despite a public outcry and the advice of doctors, who warn the law is poorly worded and may prevent women from getting the care they need as a result.

Today, State Representative Sarah Roberts and State Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr., have introduced House Bill 4764 and Senate Bill 63, respectively, to repeal the law that took effect in March 2014. Rep. Roberts explained why repeal is necessary.

This regressive law hurts women when they are most vulnerable and puts unreasonable barriers between them and the healthcare they need. A woman experiencing a miscarriage should have the peace of mind of knowing that she will receive safe and necessary medical care. This law instead injects politics into an already difficult situation, while potentially forcing a family to incur thousands of dollars of debt for care that had been traditionally covered by insurance. Prohibiting insurance companies and employers from doing what’s best for the women they serve and care for is wrong and must be stopped immediately.

The law doesn’t mandate that insurers provide this coverage, and of the 42 health insurers in Michigan only eight offer the insurance rider. Although some employer-sponsored plans in Michigan offer the rider, women are forced to give up their privacy by asking their employer to provide them with the extra coverage. Not one of the Michigan plans available for purchase directly by consumers offers the coverage, meaning many women can’t buy the insurance rider at any price.

Republicans passed the law prohibiting insurance companies from offering comprehensive insurance 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 a vote of the people — with polling clearly showing Michiganders opposing the law. But Republicans gave in to special interest pressure and passed it into law.

Sen. Hertel explained how the law does not reflect the will of the people:

Rather than upholding democratic principles, Republican legislators sold out the people of Michigan to one of their key special interest groups and let three percent of the population dictate the healthcare needs of 100 percent of Michigan women. It’s downright insulting to expect Michigan women to anticipate and financially plan for rape, incest or a miscarriage. This law should never have been enacted in the first place, and wouldn’t have if it had gone to the voters of Michigan, but the time to repeal it is now.

Gov. Rick Snyder and former Gov. John Engler previously vetoed identical legislation as being too extreme and wrong for Michigan. Gov. Snyder even cited the law’s lack of exception for rape and incest. But because the 2013 legislation was passed based on a citizen initiative, it was veto-proof.

Kudos to Rep. Roberts and Sen. Hertel for their ongoing support of women’s rights and their efforts to make sure they can access the full spectrum of healthcare services they need.

[Photo credit: Mikasi | Flickr]