Q&A: Here’s the truth about the citizen-initiated elective abortion insurance law

Categories: In Case You Missed It

The citizen-initiated law allows insurance payment for elective abortions only through optional coverage, often referred to as a “rider.”

The supplemental coverage will have a nominal cost to individuals. Traditional comprehensive health plans can still cover abortions for instances not only to protect the life of the mother, but to treat a woman if she is suffering a miscarriage or has been diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.  Also not considered an elective abortion are those done if the life of the baby appears to be at risk, or performed to remove a fetus that is no longer living (baby would be stillborn).

Is this is a legislative loophole?

No, the Michigan Constitution is not considered a legislative loophole.

Does this affect the health insurance plan I already have?

No. This law goes into effect on March 13, 2014. If you already have elective abortion coverage under your health insurance plan, it will continue until your health care plan renews, which for many plans is the first of the year.  So for those who want to purchase the supplementary insurance, the first time you will need to do so is during the enrollment period for plans beginning in 2015.

Why no exceptions for rape or incest?

The Legislature didn’t draft the law, it was citizen-initiated. In fact, the state constitution doesn’t allow the Legislature to amend or change the proposed law in any way. Therefore, it wasn’t up to lawmakers whether to include exceptions and what those exceptions might be. However, insurance coverage for emergency contraception remains unchanged by this law. Women who are sexually assaulted can receive treatment, such as the morning after pill or insertion of an IUD, to prevent an unwanted pregnancy with full coverage from their insurance company. We also should remember that abortion is not the only option for women who are raped.

Will these prevent women suffering miscarriages from receiving treatment?

Absolutely not. Women suffering miscarriages, whether life-threatening or not, will have insurance coverage for an abortion. Mothers diagnosed with ectopic pregnancies also will be able to choose to have an abortion.

What about a pregnancy in which the risks are so great that a woman’s life could be at risk?

Health insurance companies are still required to cover the cost of an abortion if the physician determines the mother’s physical condition is dire enough to warrant the procedure.

Is this just about men wanting to control women’s bodies?

The law actually has very little to do with abortion – it is an insurance law, not a health care law. The statute will be regulated by the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services, not the Department of Community Health.

There are no limits placed on access to abortions, who may have an abortion, or under what circumstances a woman can choose to have an abortion.

“Abortion is an individual choice. As such, it is up to each individual to make the decision how they will pay for such procedures.” State Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Twp.

“This doesn’t affect access to abortion. It will still be legal when this law takes effect. But who should be required to pay? Not Michigan taxpayers.” State Rep. Nancy Jenkins, R-Clayton

“Not all women have the same view on abortion, and abortion is not a woman’s only option if she is sexually assaulted, nor should we expect that all women would choose that option.”  State Rep. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage