abortion

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This week, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the final days of lame duck, including the hold up on a plan to fix the roads, a pair of Senate-approved abortion coercion bills, and a bill that would impact online purchases made in Michigan.


Inside the Michigan Senate.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Republican-led Michigan Senate has voted to make it a crime to coerce a woman to have an abortion against her will.

The legislation would prohibit stalking or assaulting a pregnant woman or anyone else with the intent to force an abortion against her wishes. After learning that a woman does not want an abortion, a person also could not threaten to cut off legally required financial support or withdraw from a contract with her.

Inside the Michigan Senate.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Coercing someone to have an abortion would carry tougher penalties under bills approved by the state Senate on Thursday.

The crime could result in criminal penalties under Senate Bills 1156 and 1157.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

Democrats in the state Legislature want to require insurance companies to offer coverage for abortions.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a petition-initiated law last year banning abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. Under that law, people can only buy coverage for abortions as a separate insurance plan, known as a “rider.”

Democrats say just seven of Michigan’s 42 health insurers offer those riders and none of them offers the plans to individuals buying insurance on their own.

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It was during the lame-duck session late last year when the state Legislature passed a law blocking insurers from paying for abortions as part of general coverage in company health care plans.

Under the law, women would have to buy extra coverage for an abortion, even in cases of rape or when the woman's life is in danger.

The law was passed without a public hearing on the basis of petitions that had been circulated by Right To Life of Michigan. It took effect in March.

Now two lawmakers are trying to get that law overturned. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, will introduce the measure in the Senate while Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, will do so in the House.

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This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the latest in the same-sex marriage debate, roads funding, whether Democrats can overturn the abortion insurance law, and a new controversy with the Education Achievement Authority.

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Legislation in the state House proposed by state Rep. Thomas Hooker, R-Byron Center, would require abortion providers to use ultrasound to detect a fetus's heartbeat – and offer the woman a chance to hear it.

That bill has the support of Right to Life of Michigan.

But the group does not support Hooker's two other bills that make it a crime to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected.

Ultrasound can generally detect a heartbeat at about seven weeks.

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It was late last year that state lawmakers passed The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.

Starting this Friday, insurance companies will not be allowed to sell policies that include abortion coverage as a standard feature.

Customers would have to buy separate add-ons, riders, to cover abortion and they would have to do it before ever knowing whether they will want to obtain an abortion.

And how that might or might not happen is pretty confusing.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, and she joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan’s law barring insurance companies from including abortion coverage in basic policies takes effect this week. 

7 insurance companies, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield, will offer an additional rider.

David Waymire is a spokesman for the Michigan Association of Health Plans.      He says most Michiganders get their insurance from self-insured company health plans which are not covered by the law.   

“So there’s really a small number of people that will ever be affected by this law at this point,” says Waymire.

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Can art and history change the tone of the conversation in the pro-choice movement?

Artist and activist Heather Ault believes they can.

Heather is the founder of 4000 Years for Choice. She's created an art series that presents abortion and contraception as a part of human history, a history of women seeking to control their reproduction.

Her posters are currently on exhibit at the Lane Hall Gallery on the University of Michigan campus.

Heather Ault joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

http://whitmer.senatedems.com/

On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – women's reproductive rights remain in the political spotlight.

Let's turn our attention to that subject here in Michigan. It was mid-December when state lawmakers approved a controversial law requiring consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage.

This means a person has to buy a rider before knowing they need an abortion; they would not be able to buy a rider after getting pregnant. And the law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

The law goes into effect in March, and there’s confusion over just how this is supposed to work.

Marianne Udow Phillips is director of The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation at the University of Michigan. She talks to us today and explains what the new law means.

Listen to the full interview above.

"Rick Snyder for Michigan" / Facebook Page

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley talk about Governor Rick Snyder's upcoming State of the State address, a new effort to save Detroit pensions and the Detroit Institute of Arts, and how abortion right advocates are backing off efforts to block a law that requires women to buy a separate health insurance rider to cover abortions.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

A coalition of abortion rights advocates will not try to immediately repeal a Right to Life-backed state law that requires women to buy a separate health insurance rider to cover abortions.

“Our efforts and our resources are better spent on a broad strategy to address this growing frustration that is about more than just one issue in one discrete moment in time, but about the larger impact of politicians using women as target practice,” said Rana Elmir, Deputy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

There’s a new law in Michigan, and insurance companies and their customers are trying to figure out who’s affected by it.

Starting March 13, 2014, women will be required to purchase additional insurance for abortion coverage. Insurance companies will not be allowed to provide the coverage as part of their normal plans.

But analysts say the new law does not affect some health care plans.

More from Chad Livengood and Gary Heilein in today’s Detroit News:

Confusion reigns about the law, said Rick Murdock, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, an industry group representing 16 health plans in the state except Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Self-insured employers, who pay directly for medical care for employees, are regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor and not subject to state rules, said Murdock, the office of Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger and some state officials.

Murdock said smaller firms — usually those with less than 150 to 200 workers — as well as companies that don’t self-fund their coverage and people buying private health insurance on their own are “fully exposed” to the law.

That amounts to one in three individuals with group or government-sponsored health plans, according to Livengood and Heilein.

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Last week, the Michigan legislature approved a voter-initiated law that bans abortion coverage in standard health insurance policies. The law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

Joining us now to help us better understand the new law is Marianne Udow-Phillips, Director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation based at the University of Michigan. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Incensed Democrats and abortion rights advocates are vowing that Republican lawmakers overreached so much with new restrictions on abortion coverage in Michigan's public and private health insurance plans that it'll cost them in next elections.

A ballot drive to override the law is being considered. If enough signatures are collected, the statewide vote would coincide with November elections and keep the issue fresh in voters' minds.

The Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This Week in Review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the passage of the ani-abortion coverage bill and campaign finance bill, as well as the appointment of the first female CEO of General Motors.

What is it about Decembers in Lansing? Last year, it was right-to-work. This year, the controversy is over a petition initiative, a veto-proof law that will require people to buy separate insurance for abortion coverage. It could not be part of a basic health insurance package in Michigan.

It was an initiated law, put before the GOP-led Legislature by the very, very influential anti-abortion group Right to Life. As we’ve noted before on It’s Just Politics, Right to Life is virtually unrivaled in its ability to organize a petition campaign, and to squeeze votes out of the Legislature, especially when Republicans are in charge.

So, that’s it, right? Law is passed. All done.

Well, not so fast. Because what is begotten by a petition drive can be challenged by a petition drive. Michigan’s pro-choice movement thinks it can take down this new law with a referendum. In fact, meetings have started to try to organize a ballot drive.

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Dark money bills go to Gov. Snyder's desk

"People who pay for so-called “issue ads” would be able to stay anonymous under a bill that has cleared the state Legislature. It would also double the amount of money people can give to campaigns and political action committees – or “PACS”. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk," Jake Neher reports.

Three medical marijuana bills move forward

"Medical marijuana patients in Michigan would have more ways to legally obtain and consume cannabis under three bills that cleared the state House Thursday. A bill to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate again in Michigan and another to let patients use edible or topical forms of medical marijuana will now go to the state Senate. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate approved legislation that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. That now goes to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk," Jake Neher reports.

New petition drive planned against anti-abortion coverage law

"A campaign is organizing to block the new law that will require people to buy a separate insurance policy for abortion coverage. The Legislature approved the law this week. Because it’s a petition initiative, it will take effect next year without the governor’s signature. Abortion rights advocates are putting together a coalition to launch a petition drive." Rick Pluta reports.

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The Michigan House and Senate have approved a controversial law that will require consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage.

The question was put to the Legislature by a petition drive pushed by Right To Life, which was launched after Governor Snyder vetoed a similar measure last year. He vetoed that measure because there were no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

But, because this 2013 version is a voter-initiated law, the Governor does not have veto-power this time around.

We caught up with Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network , to talk about this bill.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It’s Thursday, the day we talk about Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

The state legislature is wrapping up the session this week. On Wednesday, a controversial voter-initiated bill put forward by Right to Life was passed by the Republican majority House and Senate. The bill bans abortion coverage in standard insurance plans, which means Michiganders will have to purchase a separate additional rider if they want abortion covered as part of their insurance plan. This bill does not provide exceptions for rape or incest. It also does not provide an exception when the life of the mother is at risk. A similar bill was vetoed by Governor Snyder last year, but as a voter initiated bill, he doesn’t have that power this time around.

Listen to the full interview above.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

Wednesday's vote by the Legislature to enact a law to require people to buy separate health policies to cover abortions may not be the final word on the question.

There are meetings underway to organize a referendum challenge. Abortion rights advocates are putting together a coalition to launch a petition drive. They want to challenge the new law with a referendum on the ballot next November.

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Anti-abortion coverage bill approved

"The Michigan Legislature has approved a petition initiative that will require people to buy a separate health insurance policy for abortion coverage. The measure cannot be vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder. But it could be challenged via another petition drive," Rick Pluta reports.

What bills could move through on the last day of session

"Big legislation that could win final approval today would expand a state reform school district to failing schools beyond Detroit and ease the potential discontinuation of traditional land line service. Legislators also plan to update campaign laws heading into an election year by doubling donation limits and keeping intact rules for political ads over objections from the secretary of state," the Associated Press reports.

DIA now involved in bankruptcy talks

"The Detroit Institute of Arts has been allowed into talks on how to protect pieces in its collection during Detroit's bankruptcy. Museum officials say they're mobilizing public support to help implement a fundraising strategy that will meet the city's needs and ensure the well-being of the museum," the Associated Press reports.

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.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - When lawmakers vote to restrict insurance coverage of abortions in Michigan, it will affect a small number of abortions because the vast majority already are paid for out of pocket.

Health insurance covered fewer than 750, or 3 percent, of 23,000 abortions reported to the state last year.

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Judge to announce Detroit bankruptcy eligibility today

A judge is expected to announce today whether Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy. If so, Detroit will be the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history. It has $18 billion in debt.

Anti-abortion coverage proposal moves forward

"State lawmakers will consider a proposal to put new restrictions on abortion insurance coverage in Michigan. A state board yesterday certified that Right to Life of Michigan has collected enough signatures to send its petition to the Legislature. Under the measure, women would only be able to purchase abortion coverage as a separate policy. It could not be part of standard health plans," Jake Neher reports.

State workers might get pay hike, but pay more for health care

"The state Civil Service Commission is considering giving state workers a two-percent pay increase, while requiring many of them to pay more out-of-pocket for health insurance. The proposal is meant to end a contract impasse between the state and public employee unions," Jake Neher reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This week could bring a vote in the State Legislature that will be closely watched by those on either side of the abortion debate.

The vote would be on a citizen-initiated bill that could end abortion coverage as a standard feature in health insurance policies.

Right-To-Life of Michigan turned in more than 315,000 signatures to get this bill before the Legislature. 

And today, the Board of State Canvassers certified this voter-initiated petition, which sends it on to the state Legislature.

MLive reporter Jonathan Oosting joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

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Anti abortion coverage proposal could move forward today

"A proposal to require insurance companies to stop offering abortion coverage as part of basic health insurance plans takes a critical step today. Right to Life advocates want insurance companies to offer abortion coverage only as a separate rider to women. The Board of State Canvassers is expected to certify that the group collected enough signatures to put the proposal before the legislature," Steve Carmody reports.

U.P. tribe and the state in U.S. Supreme Court over off-reservation casino

"An Upper Peninsula Indian tribe will defend itself today before the United States Supreme Court against a lawsuit filed by the state of Michigan. The state is trying to stop the tribe from opening an off-reservation casino in the town of Vanderbilt in northern lower Michigan," Rick Pluta reports.

Group to gather signatures to have wolf hunt next year

"A pro-hunting coalition is launching a campaign to collect petition signatures seeking a possible third statewide vote next November on hunting wolves in Michigan. Their measure would let the Natural Resources Commission name game species, protecting Michigan's new wolf hunt. The state says that hunters had killed 17 wolves in the Upper Peninsula through Sunday morning," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A proposal to prohibit basic health insurance plans from covering abortions goes before the Board of State Canvassers tomorrow.   Women would be able to buy separate abortion riders for their health insurance policies.

The Board is expected to certify that a petition drive has enough signatures to put the matter before the legislature.

Genevieve Marnon is with Right to Life of Michigan.   She says women should pay for abortion coverage themselves.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It could be a busy December for state lawmakers after they return from their Thanksgiving break.

Here are some of the issues that could come up for debate before the end of the year.

Paying for the Medicaid expansion delay – In a procedural vote earlier this year, state lawmakers delayed by about two months the implementation of Michigan’s Medicaid expansion law. In doing so, they created a hole in the budget of more than $70 million.

Legislative leaders say passing a bill to fill that hole is one of their top priorities in the coming weeks.

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