April 16, 2014

Michigan Restricts Women’s Right to Choose…Is Ohio Next?

Last week Michigan passed an extreme measure which bans any private insurance plan in the state from covering abortions in their comprehensive insurance plans. The only exception in the bill is if the life of the mother is in danger, the bill does not make exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.  This  also means that women who have wanted pregnancies, who are carrying a fetus with fetal abnormalities so severe that it will not survive, must continue to carry the child or pay for an abortion out of pocket.

Insurance companies in Michigan are permitted to sell a separate rider to cover abortions. If a woman does not have a separate rider to cover abortions, she will be have to  pay out of pocket, even if she is paying for comprehensive health insurance. Opponents have dubbed the bill “rape insurance,” noting that a woman must have planned ahead and purchased the additional insurance rider so that she is covered in case she is a victim of sexual assault and it results in a pregnancy.

A similar bill, HB 351, has been introduced in Ohio. However, HB 351 goes one step further. Sponsored by Representative Becker and co-sponsored by Representatives Hood, Adams, Young and Buchy (all men), the bill bans all insurance from covering abortions and currently does not permit the separate rider.  The only exception in this bill is if the woman is diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.  There is no exception for rape, incest or for the life of the mother.

HB 351 bill may also impact the availability of birth control. The current language in the bill defines “abortion services” as  including “drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum.” Given that hormonal birth control works, in part, by making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus, this bill could ban birth control as well.

These type of bills are especially alarming and continue to limit options for women.

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