Bills limiting abortion access in Michigan drawing criticism (Lansing State Journal)

Published December 8, 2012, by the Lansing State Journal.

Written by Robin Erb, Detroit Free Press.


Published: 12.08.12| Updated: 12.10.12

Legislation that could limit access to abortion — several measures that shot through Thursday in a chaotic day in Lansing — drew sharp criticism from Michigan residents who said the proposals run roughshod over women’s rights and could allow doctors to pick and choose patients based on religious or moral beliefs.

A package of three Senate bills would prevent insurers on the state’s health care exchange — a provision of health care reform that Michigan must still establish — from automatically including coverage for abortion in their policies offered on the exchange.

Rather, an employer or an individual purchaser of the plan would have to request and pay separately for abortion coverage.

Web marketplace

As it stands now, nearly 80 percent of plans in Michigan cover abortion, according to Lori Lamerand, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan.

The bills would ensure that abortion coverage isn’t automatic in the policies provided on the exchange, the Web-based marketplace where people would be able to buy health insurance once health care reforms kick in. By 2014, almost everyone would be required to have insurance under federal health care legislation.

Opponents of abortion have long argued that they shouldn’t have to cover health care costs for a procedure they find morally abhorrent, either through taxes or through the participation in a health care policy that covers abortion.

'Just unrealistic'

But making abortion coverage an add-on doesn’t make sense, said Nyoweh Holman, 20, of Southfield.

No one plans to have an unwanted pregnancy and would foresee needing that kind of coverage, she said: “It’s just unrealistic.”

The bills need to pass the House and be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder before they would become law.

But a similar measure to make abortion coverage available only through a supplemental policy might be closer to law.

It was tucked inside legislation that would allow Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to change its business structure. That bill, with last-minute amendments, that would apply to other insurers as well, is headed for Snyder’s desk. Snyder has pushed for legislation to allow the Blue Cross the change in its business plan.

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