New legislation introduced this week will allow exemptions to rape insurance law for rape, incest and medical emergencies

Lansing – Michigan Senate Democrats continued their fight for fair reproductive health care for Michigan women this week, introducing legislation that would create exemptions to the state’s current rape insurance law for medically-necessary procedures or pregnancies due to rape or incest.

“This law is very polarizing, but there are some things that should rise above partisanship and personal beliefs,” said Senator Virgil Smith (D-Detroit). “To me, this includes allowing women who have been the victim of rape or incest or are facing a life-threatening pregnancy to receive the medical care they need without having to pay for a separate rider. Too many Michigan women face these dire circumstances every day, and we should not be complicating these situations with financial concerns.”

SB 1126 introduced by Senator Virgil Smith would ensure that women would no longer need a separate health insurance policy to cover an abortion that is deemed medically necessary to preserve a woman’s health. SB 1127 introduced by Senator Bert Johnson would add an exemption to purchasing a separate health care rider for women who became pregnant due to rape or incest.

“We opposed the rape insurance law when it was first pushed through the Senate, and we continue to push for its outright appeal,” said Senator Bert Johnson (D-Detroit). “But as long as this law is on the books and Michigan women and their families are being disenfranchised, we will try to lessen its impact in any way possible. That includes seeking these exemptions for rape, incest and medically-necessary procedures.”

Republicans passed the law prohibiting insurance companies from offering comprehensive health insurance in December 2013 after Right to Life of Michigan gathered signatures for a citizen’s initiative. Legislators had a choice to adopt the measure or put it to the vote of the people. Despite the public outcry, Republicans caved to special interest pressure and passed it into law without a single committee hearing, thereby allowing 3 percent of the state’s population who signed the petition to dictate health care for Michigan women and their families.

Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) introduced Senate Bill 1010 to repeal the rape insurance law outright in July. Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) introduced Senate Bill 1095 on September 30, 2014, legislation to mandate that all health insurance companies that offer group and individual health care coverage must provide the option to purchase abortion service coverage. Currently, only seven of the 42 health insurers in the state offer such a policy, and those that do only offer it as an add-on to an employer-provided plan and not for individual plans. Both bills are awaiting action by the Senate Committee on Insurance. Companion legislation for all of these bills has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives as well.