Michigan 'rape insurance' law goes into effect

An anti-abortion demonstrator (R) shouts at pro-choice demonstrators (L) in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during the annual March for Life in Washington, January 22, 2014.
An anti-abortion demonstrator (R) shouts at pro-choice demonstrators (L) in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during the annual March for Life in Washington, January 22, 2014.
This item has been updated and corrected. A correction is appended at the bottom.
When it comes to abortion rights and insurance plans, today is an important day in Michigan.

Michigan residents who buy health coverage in the private marketplace after Thursday will not have access to abortion coverage, even if a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. On that day, a new state law goes into effect that prohibits insurance companies from covering abortion services unless customers purchase separate add-ons -- called riders -- to their insurance plans ahead of time. No insurance companies will be offering those riders to new customers in the private marketplace after Thursday, according to the state's Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

You may have heard about this measure. It's better known as the "rape insurance" policy Michigan Republicans approved last year.
To be sure, GOP officials who approved the measure strongly reject that label, but it's used for good reason.
Under the new policy, passed by Michigan's Republican-led legislature, private health insurance plans can't cover abortion services -- unless you thought in advance to buy separate, special coverage, just to cover these services.
In other words, there's an expectation that you planned ahead for your unplanned pregnancy.
As Rachel explained on last night's show:

"Your insurance cannot even cover you getting an abortion if you got pregnant because you were raped. That's why the law's opponents are calling it the 'rape insurance' bill. No one plans on having an unplanned pregnancy, but if you want to make sure your abortion is covered in case you get raped, you now have to buy special standalone coverage for that in Michigan -- if you can find it. "If you have been getting your health insurance through your job, maybe there's a possibility that your insurance company might start offering that coverage so you can plan ahead for an abortion and pay extra now. But if you've been buying health insurance on your own, maybe you got new individual coverage as part of Obamacare, then no insurance company will sell you this new special coverage. None. Not one company. "They're not offering specific abortion coverage to individuals at any price. So Michigan law now says that buying separate abortion insurance is the only way you can have your abortion covered by insurance if you need one. But also that coverage is not available for purchase in the state."

Michigan isn't generally thought of as an epicenter for these kinds of culture wars, but perhaps it's time to reconsider the state's reputation.
Correction:  An earlier version of this item incorrectly said that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, formerly pictured on this post, had signed this bill into law. In fact, the legislature passed what began as a citizens initiative and thus could become law without the governor's signature (neither could he veto it). The citizens initiative started after Governor Snyder vetoed an earlier version of the bill in 2012. We regret the error.
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