Editor’s note. Ms. Whitmer is the Democrat candidate for governor of Michigan. She is running against pro-life Republican Bill Schuette.
Should people who disagree with abortion be forced to pay for them? This is a question that a majority of Americans consistently answer by saying, “no.”
Gretchen Whitmer disagrees, believing every person should be forced to pay for abortions.
Following passage of the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare], prolife people faced an ugly choice. Because of the way the ACA radically changed the insurance market, we faced a situation where insurance coverage for elective abortions could become baked into every insurance plan.
Instead of the government forcing you to pay for abortions with your tax dollars, the government could force you to pay for abortions with your insurance premiums. In several states, the only health insurance plans available on the exchanges had abortion coverage.
The ACA did have an escape valve in it; states could vote to opt-out of this abortion coverage. Michigan did exactly that by passing our Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act in 2013, partly via citizen petition drive. The law requires that those who want their health insurance to cover abortion must purchase a rider to their policy, ensuring that their money would be paying for abortions, not yours.
There are also secondary concerns regarding the coverage besides funding. We know of cases where children have had abortions using their parents’ health insurance, and the parents were completely unaware of it at the time.
When this legislation came before the Michigan Legislature, Gretchen Whitmer led an enraged opposition to it. She called this effort to protect the conscience rights of prolife people “one of the most misogynistic proposals I have ever seen.” Legislators opposing the bill called it “rape insurance,” and even made ludicrous claims that women having miscarriages would have insurance coverage taken away from them.
Let’s ignore the hyperventilating for the cameras and look at the facts.
The vast majority of abortions in Michigan have always been paid for with cash. That’s because the average cost of a first trimester abortion (about $400-$500) is well below the average health insurance deductible. Because of the ACA, your average bronze plan deductible for a young person making little more than minimum wage is about $6,000, more than 10 times the cost of a first trimester abortion. Only late-term abortions are expensive enough to be a major consideration with health insurance.
In 2009, the year before the ACA was signed into law, there were only 222 abortions in Michigan paid for by health insurance, according to numbers from the State of Michigan. In 2012, the year before our Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act passed, there were 739 abortions paid for by health insurance. By 2017, there were 1,602 abortions paid for with health insurance.
Did you read those numbers? Our Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act didn’t lower the number of women paying for abortions with health insurance at all. No woman has had her health coverage for a miscarriage taken away. It was a defensive measure to prevent abortion from being baked in to every health insurance policy in the state.
To this day, Whitmer puts opposition to our Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act at a high priority. If you look at the facts instead of her grandstanding, however, our law was preventative in nature. If elected, Whitmer would instead go on offense and force every insurance plan in the state to cover abortion.
Every time we pass prolife legislation, Whitmer and other pro-abortion legislators predict doom—this doom never happens. The bottom line in this case is that people who disagree with abortion should not be forced to pay for abortions.