Michigan Legislature Sneaks Anti-Abortion Bills Through Lame Duck Session

New laws disproportionately impact women, particularly on the issues of legal abortions.

While the media was, rightly, covering the expressions of outrage at the Michigan legislature’s anti-worker, anti-Union showpiece last Thursday, some other bills got pushed through. The Republican legislature took full adavantage of the lame duck session by jamming through blatantly partisan, anti-abortion laws.

Republican Senator Mark Jansen was the main sponsor of S.B. 613. This bill passed the state Senate and has been referred to the House Insurance committee. It prohibits abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered by the state insurance exchange in accordance with the Affordable Care Act unless a rider is purchased. So unless a female pays extra, she has no coverage in the case of an emergency. That would include an abortion needed to protect her life. How on earth is any woman supposed to look into the future and see if she would need to purchase such a rider? And one would wonder at the cost of such coverage.

Mr. Jansen didn’t stop there, though. He also sponsored S.B. 614 which requires any woman purchasing any insurance in Michigan to purchase a rider for abortion coverage. It’s sneaky about it, though. It prohibits any licensee, health care agency or facility from accepting reimbursement from any health plan for elective abortion services unless it’s from one of the aforementioned riders. Additionally, insurance providers won’t be required to even offer these riders. Again, women are expected to be able to predict the future and buy one of them. If they can even find an insurance company that offers one. And be able to afford it.

The Michigan House jumped right on board with these policies, passing H.B. 1293 and H.B. 1294, both sponsored by Rep. Joseph Hune and containing the same provisions. These were given “immediate effect.” These bills essentially ban any health care policy issued in Michigan from providing abortion coverage, making it almost impossible to obtain a medically necessary procedure. The word “elective” is inserted as a modifier but we know how persnickety insurance companies can be about that word.

Of course, all of this has been done during the lame duck session. Michigan Republicans know they won’t have the votes to pass them once the new legislature is seated. These laws affect only one part of Michigan’s population, of course: women.

The Michigan ACLU is taking action, launching a Twitter campaign (#coverme) and a petition urging Blue Cross/Blue Shield CEO, Daniel Loepp, to oppose these provisions. Rana Elmir, the Communications Director for the ACLU, spoke to Eclectablog:

These laws are “… an egregious assault on the ability of Michigan women to have access to safe and legal abortions. No woman plans for an unplanned pregnancy,” Elmir said. “What’s worse is that insurance companies aren’t even required to provide riders. So women who are covered by existing health insurance may not even have that option.”

It’s interesting the chicanery to which the pro-birth crowd will stoop to to get their way. As is often the case, they cheat because they know that’s the only way they can succeed. The Supreme Court has ruled that legal access to abortion is a right in this country. But those who will not follow the laws of the country they claim to love, and are so vociferous when the law applies to something they like, simply will not, or cannot, seem to understand that this issue has been decided. They need to move along and catch up with the rest of us here in the 21st century.