January 15, 2014 — Abortion-rights supporters in Michigan plan to focus on a broad agenda this year, rather than pursuing a petition drive to repeal a new state law banning most private and all public health plans from including abortion coverage, the Detroit Free Press reports (Gray, Detroit Free Press, 1/13).
Under the law, individuals and employers will be able to purchase separate riders to cover abortion. However, the law prohibits the purchase of the riders if a woman already is pregnant, even if the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape. Further, employers will be able to choose whether to offer the riders in their policies, which might leave some women without the option of purchasing one.
The legislation does not apply when a woman's life is in danger or to Medicaid, which must cover abortions in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/19/13).
American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss said, "The timing is a bit rough" for a petition drive right now. Opponents of the law would have had to gather 161,305 signatures by mid-March to ensure a repeal measure would appear on a statewide ballot in November.
Shelli Weisberg, also of ACLU, said polling last week was "clear ... that there is concern about government overreach on women's issues," adding, "But we need to put our resources into a much broader agenda that addresses those issues."
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan spokesperson Megan Groen said advocates would take a more comprehensive approach to women's issues leading up to the November election.
"We need to be educating voters on women's health issues," she said, adding, "We'll focus in on a broader level to make sure we have politicians who understand this. This is definitely a fight we're going to take to the polls in the districts across the state" (Detroit Free Press, 1/13).