Mich. Proposal Could Bypass Governor, Ban Most Abortion Coverage

November 27, 2013 — A Michigan proposal heading for the state Legislature would ban private and public health plans from including abortion coverage, the Detroit Free Press/Lansing State Journal reports (Gray, Detroit Free Press/Lansing State Journal, 11/25). Under a provision of the state constitution, the Legislature could vote to pass the proposal into law without the governor's signature.

The proposal, developed by Right to Life of Michigan, would 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.

Individuals and employers would be able to purchase separate riders to cover abortion (Murphy, Mother Jones, 11/25). However, the proposal would prohibit the purchase of the riders if a woman is already pregnant, even if the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape (Detroit Free Press/Lansing State Journal, 11/25).

Further, employers would be able to choose whether to offer the riders in their policies, which would leave some women without the option of purchasing one.

Petition Process

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) last year vetoed an identical proposal, but Michigan Right to Life is hoping to bypass the governor by sending its petition to the Legislature.

The state's constitution allows citizens to send a bill to the Legislature for an up-or-down vote if they collect signatures from 3% of the state's population (Mother Jones, 11/25).

On Monday, Michigan's secretary of state certified that Michigan Right to Life had provided enough valid signatures to send the bill to the Legislature for consideration.

The state Board of Canvassers will meet on Dec. 2 to certify the signatures before the proposal goes to the Legislature. Lawmakers would have 40 days to approve, reject or take no action on the bill. If the Legislature does not act or rejects the proposal, the measure will be included as a ballot initiative in the 2014 election. The 40-day timeline counts only days during which the Legislature is in session.

Bill's Prospects

Ari Adler, a spokesperson for Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R), said there is not "a decision yet on what action we're going to take."

If the measure comes to a vote in the Legislature, it has a good chance of passing because of strong antiabortion-rights majorities in both chambers, according to the Free Press/State Journal.

Democrats vowed to fight the initiative if it is brought up for consideration (Detroit Free Press/Lansing State Journal, 11/25).