Legislators in the Michigan Senate were hard at work yesterday, fighting for your right to not receive any insurance coverage for abortion unless you are literally dying. Because who needs to rebuild the economy when there are greedy women out there who need insurance coverage for expensive medical procedures?
The Senate passed three bills that would prohibit all insurance coverage for abortion: 612, 613, and 614. To clarify, that means women won't be able to use insurance to get an abortion under the Affordable Care Act or any insurance plans offered in the state, except in the case of threat to the life (not health) of the mother. Jordan Goldberg, State Advocacy General for the Center of Reproductive Rights, pointed out that prohibiting women from protecting themselves from unpredictable and expensive health care costs "goes against the very purpose of insurance while discriminating against women in the most fundamental way." Are you saying that women should be able to make their own decisions about their crucial medical needs? How silly.
Although the Senate concluded that women's personal beliefs about their own bodies aren't really relevant, they are endlessly concerned about making sure health care providers feel totally comfortable at all times, because they also passed Bill 975, the "Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act," an extremely broad bill which would permit any provider or facility to declare a conscientious objection to performing any medical service. Hmm, I've always wanted to become a surgeon, but I think kidneys are super icky. Now I can totally become one and just refuse to touch them because of LIBERTY. I love America!
All four bills will be in the House next week.
If things go as the GOP hopes they do, Michigan women who wish to terminate a pregnancy won't get any financial help from either state-based or private health insurance plans. If they can still afford to get an abortion, they'll have to find a doctor or facility who doesn't "object" to performing the procedure. The fun doesn't stop there: the Senate is expected to pass a version of HB 5711, — a massive 45-page bill that would eliminate the use of medication abortion and impose a ton of physical plant requirements on abortion providers that could shut down almost every clinic in the state — next Tuesday.
We know it's hard to keep track of the myriad of ways legislators try and separate you from your vagina, but you might remember HB 5711 from when Reps. Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum were barred by House leadership from opposing the bill on the floor after saying obscene words like "vagina" and "vasectomy" in public. It passed the House and a Senate Committee advanced the legislation in July, and now it's back like your worst recurring nightmare. 21 out of Michigan's 83 counties do not have a single OBGYN, so the bill would make it that much harder for women to gain affordable and logistical access to reproductive health — all so anti-choice medical and insurance providers can impose their beliefs on everyone else.