Michigan Women Now Need Rape Insurance

The Michigan state legislature recently passed a law banning health insurance markets from offering coverage for abortions. Instead, women seeking the procedure will be required to purchase a separate insurance rider for abortion procedures.

Under the new restrictions, which will take effect three months after the legislature adjourns for the year, women would have to predict when they will have an unplanned pregnancy, as abortion coverage must be purchased before becoming pregnant. Because the law does not allow exceptions for rape or incest, state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer and other opponents of the law have called it “rape insurance.”

Adding yet another hurdle to health-care access, the law does not guarantee that abortion insurance riders will even be available for separate purchase. According to officials at Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute, the markets for abortion riders don’t exist yet.

During debate over the bill, Sen. Whitmer, the Democratic Minority Leader, told a heart-wrenching story of being raped decades ago and never being able to tell many of her close friends. She talked about the tough discussions women who seek abortions would have to make if they did not have the insurance to cover the procedure.

Even some conservative Michigan officials oppose the law. Last year, anti-choice Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the abortion insurance rider bill because it neglected to leave exceptions for rape or incest. Prior to that, former governor John Engler, another Republican, also vetoed the bill. However, because abortion opponents collected 315,477 petition signatures, they were able to sidestep Snyder’s veto.

Those signatures do not accurately reflect Michigan voters, however, as they represent about 3 percent to 4 percent of Michigan voters. Said Whitmer during her speech,

Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens’ initiative. It’s a special interest group’s perverted dream come true.




Shae Collins is the creator of A Womyn’s Worth, a social commentary blog that addresses interests of black women.