Opinion
8:26 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Anti-abortion coverage bill is a case of a bad solution where no problem exists

Lessenberry commentary for 12/9/13

Let’s suppose for a minute that liberal activists win solid control of Michigan government in next year’s elections. Once they take over, they introduce a bill that says: No insurance policy can protect anybody who has an accident on the way to or while attending a Tea Party or Republican Party meeting.

If those people want to be covered, they need to pay extra and buy a special rider, and they can only do that before they attend such a meeting.

Well, if anyone were to propose that, I would hope you, me and everyone else we know would be screaming bloody murder at this outrageous violation of democracy and human rights.

Yet the Michigan Legislature seems to be about to do something just as bad, if not worse. The State Senate has already voted to make it illegal for health insurance plans to cover abortion -- even in the case of rape, incest, or to protect the mother’s health. Anybody who wanted that kind of protection would have to buy an extra supplemental rider.

Besides the rank injustice of this, the hypocrisy on the part of so-called free market Republicans is staggering. Can you imagine them dictating to private insurance companies what kind of polices they could and could not sell on any other issue? Actually, what is going on is crazy on a number of levels.

First of all, a proposal to enact this unjust restriction has already been certified for next year’s general election ballot. You might think Republicans would like that just fine. Having this on the ballot should conceivably bring out more anti-abortion activists, who tend to vote Republican. But Right to Life of Michigan, the main anti-abortion lobby, does not want to trust the will of the people.

They want the legislature to force this on us, now. Many legislators who count on their campaign contributions next year are eager to oblige. Gov. Rick Snyder generally goes along with social conservatives, but thinks this is a terrible idea.  In fact, he vetoed a similar provision when they tried to put it in a bill reorganizing Blue Cross last year. But this time, he won’t be able to do that.

Thanks to the fact that this is already on the ballot, it will become law if both houses of the legislature pass it. And it looks like the Michigan House may do just that, possibly as early as this week.

What makes this even more ironic is that regardless of your politics, this is a classic case of a bad solution where no problem exists. The number of abortions has fallen steadily in Michigan; it is only half what it was a quarter-century ago.

Women getting abortions usually pay out of pocket. In fact, insurance paid for only three percent of all Michigan abortions last year. State Senator Rebekah Warren says most of these may be women who actually wanted babies but had pregnancies that went terribly wrong.

But in any event, a woman’s right to choose whether to end a pregnancy is a right protected by the United States Constitution. In the interest of justice and fairness, the state house ought to table this bill, and next year, let the people decide.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. Views expressed in the essays by Lessenberry are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.

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