On Wednesday, pro-choice activists in Kansas demanded an apology from a state lawmaker who compared purchasing supplemental abortion coverage to keeping a spare tire in the car. State Rep. Pete DeGraaf (R) made the comments May 13 during “a debate shortly before the House approved a bill banning private insurers from offering abortion coverage as part of their general health plans.” The bill has since been signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback (R):
During that House debate, Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican who supports abortion rights, questioned whether women would buy abortion-only policies long before they have crisis pregnancies or are rape victims.
DeGraaf told her: “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?”
Bollier asked him, “And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with a pregnancy?”
DeGraaf then drew groans of protest from some House members when he responded, “I have a spare tire on my car.”
“I also have life insurance,” he added. “I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”
At yesterday’s press conference, Kari Ann Rinker, Kansas state coordinator for the National Organization for Women, stood next to three spare tires, as she asked DeGraaf to apologize for his comments. “These remarks, once again, portray Kansas as a state that could care less about insulting and denigrating its very citizens. I would like him to formally apologize,” she said.
Multiple states have adopted legislation prohibiting insurers from offering abortion coverage except in cases of rape, incest, or health of the mother. But the prospect that a woman would have to “plan” ahead for an unanticipated event is both discriminatory against women and a gross misunderstanding of the procedure. One Oklahoma lawmaker, who voted against a similar bill in that state, pointed out it’s unfair to require women to purchase special abortion coverage in advance because “a medically necessary termination of pregnancy is something that no family plans for or anticipates.”