Michigan’s New Abortion Insurance Rider Law: Challenges, Spin, and Justice

Bioethics-in-the-News-logoThis post is a part of our Bioethics in the News series. For more information, click here.

By Deborah Fisch, JD

In December 2013 the Michigan legislature passed the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. Because of the Act’s origin as a petition to initiate legislation, the governor possessed no power to veto it. Thus, effective March 14, no health insurance plan offered for sale in Michigan may include coverage for “elective abortion.” Instead, consumers desiring such coverage must purchase an additional rider – before becoming pregnant. No insurance carrier is obligated to sell such a rider, nor is any employer-based insurance plan required to offer employees an opportunity to purchase one.

The outcry against the law has condemned the allegedly undemocratic process of its enactment, the predicted effect on access to abortion for Michigan women, and possible further restrictions on abortion rights. Less attention has been paid to potential challenges to the law, the use of extreme spin on both sides, and the role of abortion restrictions in the larger context of Reproductive Justice.

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