Michigan is in the national spotlight again, and this time it is not bankruptcy-related. On Wednesday, December 11, 2013, Michigan lawmakers voted and enacted a highly controversial citizen’s initiative, the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. The citizen’s initiative was brought forth by the Right to Life of Michigan, who gathered nearly 300,000 certified Michigan voters to petition the passage of the Abortion Opt-Out Act. Moreover, Michigan now becomes the ninth state to require women to purchase an additional insurance rider if they want abortion coverage in their health insurance plan. In fact, a bill similar to this was vetoed last year by Governor Snyder, who deemed the bill “too far.” With this in mind, does the Abortion No-Opt Act really go “too far?”
The controversy of the bill rests in the language of section (4), which states: “an employer may purchase optional coverage for an elective abortion and may be used by a covered dependent without notice to the employee.” So how does the Act go “too far?” Imagine the ridiculousness of this highly practical example of parents sitting down and discussing whether they want to financially invest in this insurance rider, so in the unfortunate circumstance that their daughter is sexually assaulted, becomes pregnant, and elects to undergo an abortion procedure, that they are covered.
Since the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision on abortion in Roe v. Wade, the topic of abortion is a sensitive one that divides many among ethical, moral, political, and religious lines. As expected many opposed the passage of the Act, especially Michigan State Senator Gretchen Whitmer, who emotionally pled her opposition to the “Rape Insurance” by sharing her own story as a sexual assault victim. Senator Whitmer stated to her colleagues that “20 years ago I was a victim of rape and thank God it didn’t result in a pregnancy.” Furthermore, the Abortion No-Opt bill will take effect at the beginning of 2014, which leaves little time for many women and parents of daughters to discuss and decide on purchasing an extremely uncomfortable insurance rider.
By: Fahd Haque, Law Clerk for Moss & Colella, P.C. If you have any questions, please email Fahd Haque at FHaque@mosscolella.com