Michigan's legislature passed a controversial bill on Wednesday that bans insurance companies from providing abortion coverage.
Women will be forced to purchase a separate rider to provide such coverage. As the Detroit Free Press reports, women "would have to buy that rider before knowing if they needed an abortion. They would not be able to buy the rider after getting pregnant by any means, including rape or incest."
Opponents have referred to this as "rape insurance," as the law essentially requires women to plan in advance in order to have an abortion.
The law reached the state legislature after a petition drive by the group Right To Life gathered 315,477 signatures, or 4 percent of the state’s population, following a veto of a similar bill by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2012.
“This is a huge government overreach and Right to Life went too far again,” said state Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon, who voted against the bill along with the majority of House and Senate Democrats. “Do not underestimate the power of a lot of angry women and the men who support us. A yes vote puts you on the wrong side of history.”
Criticizing the bill, Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said it “tells women who are raped … that they should have thought ahead and bought special insurance for it.”
“The fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive,” she added. "This is by far one of the most misogynistic proposals I've ever seen in the Michigan legislature."
Whitmer also shared a personal story, saying that she was a victim of rape over 20 years ago. "If this were law then and I had become pregnant I would not be able to have coverage because of this. How extreme, how extreme does this measure need to be? I'm not the only woman in our state that has faced that horrible circumstance. I am not enjoying talking about it. It's something I've hidden for a long time. But I think you need to see the face of the women that you are impacting by this vote today," Whitmer said.
In the state of Michigan, if a citizen-initiated legislative petition makes it to the legislature, lawmakers can pass the law without the governor's approval. The law will automatically go into effect 90 days after lawmakers adjourn for the year.
“These legislators need to know what they just did,” said Shelli Weisberg, a spokeswoman for the ACLU of Michigan. “Women are mad. It’s like every election cycle, they do something that specifically goes against women.”
Weisberg told Detroit Free Press that a coalition of the bill's opponents are gathering next week to begin planning for a petition drive to repeal the law, a move she said would have widespread support across the state.