Robin Abcarian: More clueless politicking about women's bodies

December 14, 2013 

Rape insurance?

Is that really a thing?

Well, yes, though the anti-abortion legislators in Michigan who passed a law Wednesday making it necessary don't really call it that. They call it the "Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act."

From now on in Michigan, all public health insurance plans and most private ones will not be able to automatically include coverage for abortion services in their comprehensive policies.

Women will have to purchase separate riders in order to be covered for any sort of elective abortion. It doesn't matter to the Michigan Legislature if the pregnancy is wanted but the baby has a medical condition incompatible with life. It doesn't matter to the Michigan Legislature whether a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Oh, and by the way, a woman who is already pregnant is not allowed to purchase the rider. Too bad for her! She should have known she was going to be raped and get pregnant!

Michigan State Sen. Rebekah Warren, a Democrat from Ann Arbor, told the Detroit Free Press that women who use health insurance to cover abortions are often in their second trimester, or even third, and discover that their pregnancies have gone tragically wrong.

"The largest cost frankly is the hospital stay," Warren told the paper. "To have somebody who has a nursery waiting at home -- a wanted pregnancy, something went wrong -- to have to face the fact that they might have to pay $10,000 or $12,000 for a surgery they never even wanted is really despicable. We'd be telling women that you have to go and gamble, or you have to buy rape insurance for yourself or your daughter."

Michigan is not the only state intent on making it difficult, if not impossible, for women to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to abortion. A record number of draconian laws, aimed at eliminating abortion by attrition, have been passed by states this year.

This despite the fact that almost every time voters get a chance to vote on anti-abortion laws, they reject them. A Michigan poll found that voters opposed the rape insurance law, 47 percent to 41 percent.

"When people have the ability to vote on these proposals themselves, time and time again, they vote against government interference in a woman's private decisions," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project in a conference call with reporters Thursday.

She noted that before Texas legislators passed a restrictive law this year that has shut down abortion clinics by imposing superfluous restrictions, a poll showed 80 percent of voters objected. Even in the reddest states -- like South Dakota and Mississippi -- and purple states -- like Colorado and New Mexico -- voters have rejected laws that would restrict or ban abortions.

Eight other states have similar laws to the one passed by Michigan on Wednesday, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which closely tracks abortion and reproductive trends and laws.

Last week, Michigan Right to Life, which ran the signature drive that got Lansing legislators to act, held a classic news conference in support of the law.

The featured speakers said they were conceived after rapes. They said they were happy to be alive, therefore any woman who gets pregnant after a rape should be forced to carry a baby to term. (As far as I know, the group did not produce any people conceived after incest.)

Maybe you are thinking to yourself: Hey, wait! I thought in the event of a "legitimate rape," a woman's body has ways to "shut that whole thing down."

Those were the memorable words Missouri Republican and former U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin used to commit political suicide last year.

Thanks to Akin, and his fellow Republican, former U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock of Indiana, who insisted that pregnancies from rape are a "gift from God," Democrats were able to persuade voters that the GOP was engaged in a "war on women."

And thanks to that very effective turn of phrase, Democrats were able to hold on to the Senate, and you could argue, even the White House.

Now, just in time for Christmas, the Republicans of Michigan have handed Democrats and reproductive rights advocates the invaluable gift of "rape insurance."

Well done, GOP. Now try living that one down.

Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times; www.latimes.com.

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