In a symbolic blow to one of the poisoned fruits of Obamacare, Michigan’s Republican legislature on Wednesday voted to prohibit all insurance companies – public or private – from offering general policies that cover abortions.
Abortion coverage will have to come on its own, according to a law that takes effect in early 2014 – and taxpayers won’t be on the hook for it.
On nearly party-line votes, the state House and Senate passed bills to limit general health insurance coverage of abortions to those necessary to save the life of the mother. Coverage for elective abortions would require policy additions – known as riders – that would be paid for separately.
Republicans said the bill was a victory for taxpayers and policy holders with moral objections to abortion because they wouldn’t be forced to subsidize the procedure. Abortion would remain legal and available, they said, just not paid for by anyone by the woman getting it.
“I don’t think elective abortion should be a part of insurance,” said state Republican Rep. Nancy Jenkins, according to the Detroit Free Press. “This doesn’t affect access to abortion. It will still be legal when this law takes effect. Who should be required to pay? Not Michigan taxpayers.”
The debate grew emotion, with Senate Democrat Gretchen Whitmer telling colleagues about her own rape 20 years ago, and how the bill would affect women in similar situations who didn’t have “rape insurance.”
The bill, she said, “tells women who are raped … that they should have thought ahead and bought special insurance for it.”
According to the Associated Press, health insurance covered only 3.3 percent of the abortions performed in Michigan last year. Medicaid doesn’t pay for elective abortions – those performed because the mother’s health is at risk – and even women whose private insurance covers abortion might not want the procedure known to their families or employers.
So, the vote was basically a formal way to ensure private plans offered on Michigan’s Obamacare-created insurance exchange can’t use taxpayer subsidies to cover elective abortions.
Republican Rep. Margaret O’Brien told the Association Press that women who wanted health insurance that covered abortion would still be able get it.
“I respect the seriousness of the emotions. I went through an unplanned pregnancy. I’ve counseled people who’ve been raped that has resulted in pregnancies,” she said. “But I’ve also seen women who’ve embraced those babies through rape and seen that that child shouldn’t be punished for the horrendous act that happened to them.”
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