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Abortion Rights Advocates: Supporters of 'Ugly Law' Should Pay at the Polls

In an impassioned plea, Senate Majority Leader Gretchen Whitmer disclosed she was raped 20 years ago, but "can’t even begin to imagine now having to think about the same thing happening to my own daughters" in Michigan's anti-abortion climate.

Abortion rights advocates may seek to repeal or override new restrictions requiring women to buy a separate insurance rider to cover abortion services.
Abortion rights advocates may seek to repeal or override new restrictions requiring women to buy a separate insurance rider to cover abortion services.

Abortion rights advocates say lawmakers who supported new restrictions on abortion coverage last week were “over-reaching” and it should cost them their jobs next November.

Last week, the abortion insurance bill, which will require women to buy a rider for their health insurance plans if they want abortion coverage, passed the Senate 27-11 and the House 62-47.

The bill is restrictive that its opponents say it should cost Republican lawmakers who supported it their jobs in the 2014 elections, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Among the strategies being considered is a ballot drive to repeal or override the law, with a possible referendum on the same November ballot as legislative contests.

Abortion debates are rarely without acrimony, but Democratic women in the male-dominated Legislature are incensed that there were no committee hearings were held on the Right to Life initiative that allows primary insurance companies to cover abortion procedures only if the mother’s life is at risk. When policies renew in March, policyholders would have to elect to pay for a rider that would cover abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest.

Among the outspoken critics of the legislation, approved Wednesday, was Senate Majority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who acknowledged on the Senate floor that she had been raped 20 years ago.

Whitmer, an East Lansing Democrat, said she was raped as a college student more than 20 years ago. She has coped privately, she said, but thought it was important “for my Republican colleagues to see the face of the women they’re hurting by their actions today.”

“Thank God I didn’t get pregnant as a result of my own attack,” she said, “but I can’t even begin to imagine now having to think about the same thing happening to my own daughters.”

Whitmore and other lawmakers who told personal stories before last week’s vote said they should have been part of the deliberation in committee.

Since then, Whitmer said she has received a barrage of support from both Democrats and Republicans, men and women. “The vast majority of people in this state don’t want this ugly policy,” she said Friday. “A lot of them are extremely offended by it.”

Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation, but won’t have that authority this time around. The Legislature’s action was on a citizens’ initiative, brought to the chambers after pro-life activists gathered more than 300,000 signatures.

DISCUSS: Do you believe Michigan women should be required to buy insurance riders to cover abortion procedures, even in instances like rape and incest? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

>>> Read the full story on the Detroit Free Press.

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