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As Michigan Passes ‘Rape Insurance’ Bill, One Senator Tells of Her Own Sexual Assault

As Michigan Passes ‘Rape Insurance’ Bill, One Senator Tells of Her Own Sexual Assault

Just 300,000 Michiganders — only 4 percent of the voters in the state – signed petitions saying they supported forcing separate insurance riders for abortion coverage. In the latest poll a majority of voters said they did not approve of the measure. Yet that didn’t stop the Michigan House and Senate from voting to put what one senator called an “abortion rider” onto health insurance, forcing women and families to decide in advance if they want to pay so they can have abortions covered, even in cases of fetal anomaly or because of pregnancy after a sexual assault.

“The fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive,” testified Democratic state Senator Gretchen Whitmer, who called the bill “one of the most misogynistic proposals I’ve ever seen in the Michigan Legislature.”

Sen. Whitmer had reason to feel that way. Testifying to the damaging effects that in essence force those purchasing insurance to decide ahead of time whether or not they want to be covered if they should ever get pregnant as a victim of sexual assault, the Senator felt compelled to speak candidly on the floor about her own story of being raped two decades earlier, a part of her life she had never shared with the public.

“As I was considering what to say in opposition to the rape insurance proposal in front of the Senate today, I made the decision to speak about my own story publicly for the first time ever. It was the story of the time I was raped while in college. It’s something I’ve coped with privately for many years now, but I felt it was important for my Republican colleagues to see the face of the women they’re hurting with their actions today,” testified Sen. Whitmer in a gripping and scathing floor speech.

“Thank God I didn’t get pregnant as the result of my own attack,” continued Whitmer. “But I can’t even begin to imagine now having to think about the same thing happening to my own daughters.”

Sen. Whitmer wasn’t the only legislator to share heartbreaking personal stories in opposition to the bill. One told of the D&C she needed to manage a miscarriage of a wanted pregnancy at 12 weeks, another spoke of her deliberation over whether she would need to have an abortion if further genetic testing on her child showed severe health issues. Not a single example of the real impact abortion insurance riders would have in these cases swayed the Republican majorities in both chambers, who still voted in favor of the new measure.

Abortion opponents provided most of their own personal stories and strong arming of the legislature in the days prior to the debate, from people who were conceived after sexual assault demanding that all rape pregnancies be carried to term, and a #scheduleit tweetfest pulled together by Michigan Right to Life pushing legislators for action before they recessed for the year. The tweets made it clear that although abortion opponents claimed their issue was that they wanted to not be involved in “subsidizing” abortion, their real motive was their assumption that those who could not afford an abortion because their insurance would not cover it would be obligated to give birth. “A 1 year delay will cost lives. The legislature needs to schedule a vote on The MI Abortion Insurance Opt-out Act this week,” tweeted Michigan anti-abortion activist and researcher Michael New.

Not all the Twitter pressure ended Tuesday, nor was all of it quite so mild. “If @gretchenwhitmer is so concerned about paying for abortions, she should get out her checkbook or start a baby-killing fund,” Wendy Day, a Republican candidate for the state house, tweeted prior to the floor debate according to the Detroit Free Press.

The House and Senate both voted against an immediate implementation of the new riders. Instead, it will begin in March of 2014.

Watch Sen. Whitmer’s full, emotional testimony below.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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157 comments

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9:50PM PST on Jan 9, 2014

WOW ! What next.

12:18PM PST on Dec 20, 2013

Brandon V.
“Dennis, I will reiterate, the right of abortion is not unlimited, a fact that pro-choice people tend to ignore.”

on what do you base that “fact”?

5:20AM PST on Dec 20, 2013

First the perpetrator scars the victim, then our justice system, and now our healthcare system. We have some really uncaring people in our nation. Why isn't violence against women really taken seriously in this country?

4:10AM PST on Dec 20, 2013

TY

1:02PM PST on Dec 19, 2013

Pam, viability is not the sum total of ethical arguments on the matter though. It's just the one that's legally enshrined right now.

10:35AM PST on Dec 19, 2013

Brandon if anything the Court reaffirmed Roe And yes set new guides.. But DID NOT take any legal rights away from women in seeking and obtaining an abortion.

10:33AM PST on Dec 19, 2013

Cont.

and unnecessary damage to the Court's legitimacy and to the Nation's commitment to the rule of law. Pp. 22-27.

10:30AM PST on Dec 19, 2013

Brandon V. Wikipedia.. You disappoint me.. Wikipedia is for fools and people to lazy to look past their own noses.

Here is where I am talking about...
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey (91-744), 505 U.S. 833 (1992)
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/91-744.ZS.html
"(i) Overruling Roe's central holding would not only reach an unjustifiable result under stare decisis principles, but would seriously weaken the Court's capacity to exercise the judicial power and to function as the Supreme Court of a Nation dedicated to the rule of law. Where the Court acts to resolve the sort of unique, intensely divisive controversy reflected in Roe, its decision has a dimension not present in normal cases and is entitled to rare precedential force to counter the inevitable efforts to overturn it and to thwart its implementation. Only the most convincing justification under accepted standards of precedent could suffice to demonstrate that a laterdecision overruling the first was anything but a surrender to political pressure and an unjustified repudiation of the principle on which the Court staked its authority in the first instance. Moreover, the country's loss of confidence in the Judiciary would be underscored by condemnation for the Court's failure to keep faith with those who support the decision at a cost to themselves. A decision to overrule Roe's essential holding under the existing circumstances would address error, if error there was, at the cost of both profound

10:26AM PST on Dec 19, 2013

Brandon V. Sorry didn't mean to send you a green star..
And I will reiterate.. A woman legal right to seek and have an abortion is constitutional. Something that the prolife (antichoice) folks would like to ignore.

8:25AM PST on Dec 19, 2013

It's interesting how the anti-choice mob likes to talk about improvements in fetal viability to shorten ''approved'' time limits on abortion.

A 22-week fetus MAY be viable---with the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And it MAY be viable--with the exception of birt/developmental defects requiring the expenditure of MORE hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The anti-choice mob likes to imagine perfect little babies smiling and bobbing about in the uterus...from conception to actual birth. Human development is NOT that fantasy! And condemning women to responsibility for an unwanted child is nothing more than punitive, authoritative SPITE.

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