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Friday, April 18, 2014

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Abortions should be covered by insurance

Insurance coverage for some abortions, including in cases of rape or incest, is a simple majority vote away from being nixed in Michigan.

The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act would force women to buy additional insurance riders to cover abortions, not including life-threatening pregnancies or treatment for miscarriages. Abortions for survivors of rape or incest would not be covered under basic insurance.

The movement is led by the No Taxes For Abortion Insurance committee of Right to Life of Michigan, an anti-abortion group. A majority vote by the Michigan legislature is all it will take to approve the act; it won’t even need a signature from Gov. Rick Snyder, who last year vetoed a bill to prohibit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan from including abortion in general health coverage despite approving several other bills restricting abortion clinics and physicians.

More than 315,000 Michigan signatures, out of which nearly 300,000 were found valid by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, expressed outcry via a petition over paying for something they don’t believe in. Still, that does not give lawmakers the right to make it increasingly difficult to get an abortion for women who need it most. Slipping this through the political process is an underhanded attempt by Right to Life of Michigan to make this seem like the will of the people.

While it is questionable that the Affordable Care Act forces some taxpayers to pay for procedures that go against their religious beliefs, including abortion in non-life threatening cases, pandering to the extreme beliefs by giving this act the go-ahead would come at the expense of survivors of rape and incest. The fact that the proposed legislation qualifies abortions by rape and incest survivors as “elective” is insulting and poor public policy. Survivors should have the right to choose whether to carry a child, and additional financial hurdles will make having an abortion less accessible.

Editorial Board

Ian Kullgren
Summer Ballentine
Celeste Bott
Anya Rath

Additionally, women who already are pregnant would not be able to purchase the extra coverage, according to a Detroit Free Press report. No one ever plans or expects to be raped, especially by a family member. Assuming women can predict that they will need an abortion later in life because of sexual assault, or for any other reason, is offensive to say the least. It’s hard to imagine many women will feel the need to buy a rider because of a potential unplanned pregnancy, which will undermine the point of providing health coverage for abortions in the first place.

The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act also threatens to marginalize poor women — the ones who might need financial assistance for abortions most. The extra cost might be too much, or again might seem like an unnecessary expense.

Regardless of whether this legislation is right or not, it’s unfair for such a controversial topic to be decided by just the state legislature. It’s a political play, unfortunately at the expense of women and in particular, survivors of rape and incest.

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