IN THE WORLD of politics, the male-dominated realm of imposing values on women’s reproductive choices has again come into full relief, this time in the form of a controversial initiative that would require women to buy an additional rider on their health insurance if they wanted abortion coverage.
The deadline passed yesterday without a single challenge, thereafter the more than 315,000 signatures supporting the requirement were submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State. The requirement would prohibit abortion coverage from being included in standard insurance policies.
The Secretary of State subsequently certified the petition drive that Michigan Right to Life spearheaded, saying the organization exceeded the number of valid signatures required to start the ball rolling on the new state law; a minimum of 258,088 valid signatures were needed. According to the Secretary of State’s office, the anti-abortion activists turned in 315,477 signatures and the office’s elections division estimated that 299,941 of those signatures were valid.
The state Board of Canvassers will meet at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 2 to certify the signatures and then the petition moves to the state Legislature, which has 40 days to approve, reject or do nothing with the legislative ballot initiative.
Should the proposal become law, it would require all private and public health insurance plans to offer a separate rider for an abortion — and 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.
“We don’t have a decision yet on what action we’re going to take,” Ari Adler, spokesman for Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall), told the Detroit Free Press. “We’re waiting until we have it in hand.”
With strong anti-abortion majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, the initiative has a good chance of passing and immediately becoming law, and because it is a legislative ballot initiative, Gov. Rick Snyder cannot sign it or veto it.
If the Legislature rejects or does nothing with the legislative ballot initiative, it will go to the November 2014 ballot for a statewide vote.
With few options, pro-choice supporters have little recourse other than to appeal directly to the legislators and convince them that a vocal yet organized minority is attempting to impose its will on the public. There are more than 7.4 million registered voters in Michigan and 315,477 signatures represents slightly more than 4 percent of them.