GOP War on Women, Michigan Edition
After the 2010 elections swept Republicans into power in legislatures across the country, they set about passing an unprecedented number of restrictions — 135 in 2011 and 2012 and 84 more so far this year — on abortion rights.
Michigan has been no exception. A year ago, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed one of the nation’s most extreme anti-abortion laws.
Now lawmakers have used a quirk in Michigan law to push through a bill mandating rape insurance. Yes, you read that right: rape insurance.
On Wednesday evening, both chambers of the Michigan legislature approved a measure that will require women to purchase an additional insurance rider if they want abortion coverage, even in cases when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. It will take effect 90 days after lawmakers adjourn, making Michigan the ninth state to restrict coverage of abortion on the private insurance market — an increasingly popular method of imposing barriers to the procedure.
Opponents decried the legislation as a “rape insurance” bill, pointing out that victims of sexual assault would be forced to pay out-of-pocket for an abortion procedure unless they had thought ahead and purchased a separate rider. In the lead-up to the vote, State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) called the bill “one of the most misogynistic proposals” that has ever been up for debate in the legislature, adding that forcing women to consider purchasing extra insurance in case they’re raped in the future is “truly despicable.”
And Republicans endorsed the measure even after their own colleagues shared their personal stories of sexual assault and miscarriage. Last year, two female Michigan state representatives were temporarily banned from speaking on the Michigan House floor after they dared speak the word “vagina” during the debate on a different draconian anti-abortion bill.
Snyder had vetoed the bill last year but it will become law this year without his signature because “citizen-initiated” bills (bills advanced following a signature gathering drive) approved by the legislature don’t require his approval. The legislature could have disapproved, in which case the measure would’ve been put before Michigan voters in 2014. Instead, they endorsed the offensive and cruel notion of rape insurance.
Harsh anti-abortion measures like this are just one example of a nationwide campaign by right-wing activists to impose their own theological doctrines onto others using public policy.
BOTTOM LINE: If Republicans don’t want to be accused of waging a war on women, they should stop passing bill after bill that attack women and their families.