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76 comments Right to Life of Michigan turns in 315,000 signatures

Nov 5th, 2013 - State News

(Mlive) LANSING, MI -- Right to Life of Michigan says it has turned in enough signatures to send to the state Legislature a bill that would prohibit insurers from including abortion coverage as a standard option in health plans sold here.

Organizers dropped off an estimated 315,477 signatures at the Secretary of State's office in Lansing on Friday afternoon, according to Pam Sherstad, a spokesperson for Right to Life and the "No Taxes For Abortion Insurance" committee.

The group needed to collect only 258,088 signatures to advance a citizen-initiated bill similar to one vetoed last year by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. This time around, if the state verifies the signatures and the Republican-led Legislature approves the bill, it could not be vetoed.

"The people of Michigan have spoken clearly that they do not want tax dollars or health insurance premiums paying for abortion," said Sherstad, citing the signatures.

Right to Life has promoted the petition drive as a way to prevent abortion coverage in subsidized policies that will be available under the Affordable Care Act. But the bill would apply to all insurance policies offered in Michigan, including those sold in the private marketplace.

Women who want abortion coverage as part of their insurance policy could still purchase it via a separate rider. Employers who decide to offer plans with abortion coverage would be required to notify all employees of that decision.

Snyder, explaining his veto last year, said he felt the bill went too far by regulating private insurance and by failing to make exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother.

If the Board of State Canvassers determines enough signatures were filed, lawmakers would have 40 days to take up the bill, which would not be subject to gubernatorial veto if approved. If they do not, it would head to the statewide ballot in 2014.

Right to Life expects legislative approval, according to Sherstad. A majority of House and Senate members signed the petition, she said, and both chambers approved a similar measure last year.

Democrats plan to oppose the measure if Republican leadership takes it up, promising a floor fight and suggesting that the process could turn off 2014 voters.

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