Michigan legislators are considering acting on a petition that will clearly reveal their level of callous disregard for women. The petition calls for a ban on abortion coverage as part of Michigan health insurance policies. Instead, to get this coverage, women would be required to buy a separate abortion insurance rider policy.This action would make access to comprehensive health care nearly impossible to obtain for many women around our state. This proposal singles out women and denies them health care coverage for life-saving health care services with no exception for rape, incest or the life and health of the mother.
Now, let’s be clear. The proposal does absolutely nothing to eliminate abortion in Michigan. The action only increases the cost of abortion to women. So the only undeniable impact of this proposal is that a legal medical procedure will now cost a specific, targeted population of citizens more money — money that many of these citizens do not have. This proposal singles out women, forcing them to pay more money for medical treatment to which they have a legal right.
But let’s concentrate on what this proposed action does for the rest of us. If enacted, the proposal will do nothing to make us better men. It will not make us more responsible sexual partners. It will not make us better husbands or fathers. But if we choose to rape, it will make it more likely that our victim will be forced to carry a resulting pregnancy to term and to live with the consequences of our rape for the rest of their lives.
So the real impact of this proposal is to facilitate economic and physical violence against poor women. A woman with enough money will still have access to abortion. But a woman lacking financial resources will now have to play Russian roulette with their health care. A woman suffering a life-threatening pregnancy will now bear an even greater financial burden in order to live. And victims of incest or rape will face one more hurdle to restoring their health and well being.
I urge legislators to reject this ill-conceived and offensive proposal. And if they feel that they must proceed, then stop playing political games and put the matter to a vote of ALL the people — not just the small handful required for submitting such a petition. If legislators truly consider themselves “pro-life,” then they should do the right things to reduce unwanted pregnancies: mandate comprehensive sex education for all children and youth; make birth control widely available and affordable; hold men accountable for violence and sexual assault against women; and provide universal, affordable health care, better child care services, equal wages for women, and quality public education for all of our children. If they are unwilling to support these causes, then they should stop calling themselves “pro-life” and call themselves what they really are — “anti-woman.”