Lawmaker Accused Of Opposing Michigan’s Rape Insurance Law To Keep Abortion ‘Cheap For His Daughters’

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"Lawmaker Accused Of Opposing Michigan’s Rape Insurance Law To Keep Abortion ‘Cheap For His Daughters’"

Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI)

Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI)

CREDIT: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

According to an anti-choice group in Michigan, one of the state’s lawmakers has staked out his position on reproductive rights purely because he wants to make sure that abortion remains “accessible and cheap for his daughters.”

The statement comes in response to a controversial new abortion restriction in Michigan that took effect earlier this month. Women who buy health insurance in Obamacare’s private market are now barred from purchasing a plan that includes abortion coverage, even if they want to end a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest. They’ll be required to purchase a separate rider if they want an abortion procedure to be covered, which has led reproductive rights supporters to decry the measure as a “rape insurance” law.

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D), who is currently running for a Senate seat, is one of the lawmakers who has repeatedly spoken out against the measure. “As the father of two daughters, I struggle with how to tell them that the state we love and where our family has been for generations is now unfairly discriminating against them and makes health care less affordable,” Peters said in a statement last week.

Right to Life of Michigan — the right-wing group that was instrumental in getting the new law approved last winter — has seized on that sentiment. In a new website highlighting Peters’ abortion policy positions, the group cites Peters’ recent comments to assert that the pro-choice lawmaker “wants to make sure abortion is accessible and cheap for his daughters.”

Thanks to the persistent stigma that remains attached to abortion care, the comments appear to imply something negative about the women who may need access to abortion, and attempt to link Peters with that implication.

The congressman has condemned the comments as “inflammatory partisan politics,” saying that using his daughters to make a point is a step too far. Peters is calling on his Republican opponent, Terri Lynn Land, to distance herself from Right to Life of Michigan. Land has been endorsed by the anti-choice group.

“I’m proud to be the dad of two amazing teenage daughters, and I’m also proud of my record fighting to protect critical access to women’s health care,” Peters said in a statement provided to ThinkProgress. “Women’s health care is a serious and significant point of contrast in the U.S. Senate race, and it is outrageous that Land’s allies would cheapen this debate and distort my support for women’s health care… To include my teenage daughters in their attack crosses the line.”

A Right to Life spokesperson told Michigan Live that Peters has brought up his daughters on several occasions while discussing reproductive rights, which makes the point relevant to the current race.

Michigan’s new insurance restriction has captured a lot of media attention, but it’s hardly the only state with this type of policy on the books. Cutting off access to insurance coverage for abortion is an very popular method of restricting reproductive rights, and Obamacare’s state-level exchanges have introduced a new avenue for abortion opponents to accomplish this goal. Just as Peters points out, this policy is about making abortion care too expensive for many women to afford.

Since abortion is simply part of women’s reproductive health care, complicated laws that segregate it from the rest of the services covered by insurance are often too difficult to implement in practice. For instance, even though Michigan’s new law operates under the assumption that women can buy separate insurance riders for abortion, it’s not clear that these types of riders are even being offered on the individual market.

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