After a state-wide ballot-initiative drive from pro-life groups, the Michigan state legislature has passed legislation that would exclude abortion from being offered as a covered benefit in public and private health-insurance plans. The senate voted 27 to 11 in favor of the bill and the House 62 to 47, both largely on party lines. Republican governor Rick Snyder had previously vetoed a similar bill last December.
Michigan is now the 24th state to ban abortion coverage in standard health insurance provided via the exchanges and the ninth state to prohibit abortion coverage in both public and private insurance plans. Consumers will still be able to purchase a separate rider for abortion coverage; however, this eliminates the potential use of taxpayer funded subsidies to buy insurance plans that cover abortion.
The Michigan state constitution allows citizens to gather signatures and propose a ballot initiative. If sufficient signatures are gathered (amounting to at least 8 percent of the total votes cast for all candidates in the last gubernatorial election) the legislature has 40 days to vote on the petition before the measure is put on the ballot at the next election. Whether the legislature or the people pass the initiative, the initiative does not need the signature of the governor to become law.
Michigan’s Right to Life collected 315,477 signatures, 299,941 of which were deemed valid by the Michigan secretary of state’s elections division on Monday, December 2. (It is common in petition drives for many signatures to be invalidated.) Right to Life needed only 258,088 valid signatures to put the initiative to the legislature.
Snyder said in his veto statement last year that the similar proposed legislation, “treats situations that involve rape, incest, and health of the mother as elective abortions” and the changes in the bill “interfere in the current private marketplace for insurance.”
Michigan’s Right to Life says people should not be forced to subsidize abortion. “The Affordable Care Act is upon us and because of the intrusion into the private market, tax subsidies will be used to subsidize health care plans purchased on the health-care exchanges,” said Genevieve Marnon, a spokeswoman for Michigan Right to Life. “Unless we opt abortion out of those plans, tax-subsidized dollars will be going toward abortion coverage.”