Michigan Dems vote to repeal ‘rape insurance’ law requiring abortion rider
- Senate Democrats approved legislation to repeal a law requiring coverage for elective abortions to be purchased separately in health care plans
- The bill, opposed by Republicans, is part of a wide-ranging package designed to remove restrictions to abortion access
- The effort faces a tough sell in House, where Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, has opposed key elements of the package
Michigan Senate Democrats continued chipping away at state abortion restrictions Thursday, voting to repeal a law requiring an extra insurance rider for coverage of the procedure.
Senate Bill 593, sponsored by Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, is part of an overall package aimed at repealing rules approved when Republicans led the Legislature that advocates say are designed to limit access. The Democratic-majority Senate passed the bill Thursday in a 20-18 vote along party lines.
In addition to codifying elements of 2022’s Proposal 3, which made access to abortion a constitutional right in Michigan, the bill would do away with a controversial law that requires coverage for elective abortions to be purchased separately in health care plans.
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The citizen-initiated 2013 law backed by Right to Life of Michigan was dubbed “rape insurance” by critics, including then-Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who said the law unfairly requires people to plan ahead for unplanned pregnancies.
Last week, the Senate approved other bills in the package eliminating a 24-hour waiting period for abortions in Michigan and repealing strict facility regulations for abortion clinics, among other things.
Republicans have argued the package goes beyond what voters approved in Proposal 3. Sen. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, on Thursday unsuccessfully pushed an amendment to restrict abortions after fetal viability, telling lawmakers the state “should not be allowing abortion of babies that have reached the age where they could survive outside the womb.”
Geiss countered that decisions on abortions and reproductive care should be left to medical professionals and their patients.
The debate now returns to the House, where roadblocks have emerged. With a two-seat majority in both chambers and Republicans opposed, Democrats need every vote to pass the bills.
Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, last month came out against key provisions of the Democrats’ plan, including the 24-hour waiting period the bills would repeal.
Democrats appear to have abandoned a bill that would have allowed state-funded abortions through Medicaid insurance, as Whitsett said she wouldn’t vote for it.
Abortion access advocates, including Planned Parenthood of Michigan, have urged the Democratic-led House to pass the original package "in full" in order to "remove the many barriers to abortion care in Michigan state law that exist only to push abortion out of reach.
Urgency in the debate has increased since the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed abortion rights nationwide for nearly 50 years.
Since then, neighboring states such as Ohio and Indiana have adopted restrictions on the procedure, prompting out-of-state abortions in Michigan to jump.
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