Michigan passes despicable "rape insurance" law

Women who are victims of rape must now have a pre-bought insurance rider in order to access abortion care

Published December 12, 2013 2:15PM (EST)

  (Reuters/Stephen Lam)
(Reuters/Stephen Lam)

Michigan's Republican-controlled state Legislature voted Wednesday to pass a measure to ban all public and private insurance plans in the state from covering abortion. The law will force women and employers to purchase a separate policy to cover abortion care, a rider that must be purchased in advance of becoming pregnant, even in cases of rape and incest.

An identical measure was vetoed twice before in the state, but because this iteration of the bill was introduced through a rarely used initiative process, it does not require Gov. Rick Snyder's signature in order to become law. Snyder, a self-identified "pro-life" Republican, previously said the measure went "too far" and that he does not "believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage."

Reproductive rights groups and Democratic lawmakers in the state have denounced the new law, and the tactics of antiabortion lawmakers and activists outside the Legislature, including Right to Life of Michigan.

“This tells women who were raped … that they should have thought ahead and planned for it,” said state Sen. Leader Gretchen Whitmer. “Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens' initiative. It’s a special interest group’s perverted dream come true.”

State Rep. David Knezek called the measure a deeply misogynistic decision about women's health made mostly by men. "This body made up of 80 percent men will make a decision that will impact 100 percent of women," he said.

Democrats in the state Legislature have called for an immediate repeal of the law.


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

MORE FROM Katie McDonough