Students protest law requiring insurance rider for abortions

Under the new law, women carrying insurance have the option to buy additional coverage for abortions, instead of having abortion coverage included in their benefits.

States are allowed to enforce this through a provi sion of the Affordable Care Act.

Michigan’s law, which took effect this past Thursday, makes no exception for cases of rape or incest.

Psychology and philosophy freshman Jessa Stegall organized Tuesday’s protest and is a member of MSU Students United.

She, along with about 20 other protesters, marched around the Capitol building and held signs with slogans such as “My body, my choice,” and “End the war on women.”

The protesters argued the new law would limit women’s access to legal and constitutionally-protected health care.

“I think it’s completely unfair women can’t decide their own fate when it comes to that,” Stegall said. “It’s a part of the war on women.”

Michigan Right to Life led the successful citizen-initiated petition to push the abortion rider legislation into law, collecting more than 300,000 signatures on a proposal that was later approved by a majority legislators in both the House and Senate.

Gov. Rick Snyder, who had vetoed a similar bill approved by the state legislature, was not given the opportunity to review or veto the law per the conditions of the signature.

Michigan Right to Life Spokeswoman Genevieve Marnon was surprised at the opposition demonstrated at the protest, noting that Michigan is the 24th state to offer rider-only abortion insurance.

“I’m surprised we are getting so much push-back,” she said. “We’re only exercising that which was built into the Affordable Care Act.”

Other members of the MSU community came out to show their support, including assistant professor Penny Gardner, who said she has been adv ocating for women’s rights for 55 years.

“I don’t have a lot of hope for lawmakers, but young people need to hear this and know it’s important,” Gardner said. “(Young women) need to hear this because it is empowering.

“Being victims of other people’s ideas of what is right for them is disempowering.”

Residents from throughout the Lansing area protested alongside MSU students and professors to support the cause as well.

Jackson, Mich., resident Robert Alcenius said he came to the protest because he felt Michigan women lacked equality under the abortion rider law.

“I believe everybody should have options available to them and this is just taking options away from women,” he said.

Stegall said she plans on holding another protest sometime soon, where she hopes to confront policymakers at the Capitol directly.

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