Arguing that Michigan women should be forced to buy separate insurance coverage for abortion services, even in the cases of rape or incest, a prominent anti-choice leader in the state claimed that paying extra money to terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape is the same thing as paying extra money for car insurance.
Right to Life of Michigan is currently pushing to prohibit the state’s insurance providers from covering elective abortion services, which would force women to pay additional money to purchase a separate insurance rider to terminate a pregnancy. If the group collects enough signatures, the issue will appear on the 2014 state ballot. This week, when reporters asked Right to Life president Barbara Listing why the proposed insurance ban doesn’t include an exception for rape or incest, she compared those sexual crimes to car accidents and floods.
“It’s simply, like, nobody plans to have an accident in a car accident, nobody plans to have their homes flooded. You have to buy extra insurance for those,” Listing explained.
Jessica Tramontana, a spokesperson for the liberal activist group Progress Michigan, called Listing’s comments “appalling” and pointed out that rape can’t be compared to those catastrophic events because sexual assault isn’t actually an accident. “Nobody can anticipate being the victim of a crime,” Tramontana said.
Ultimately, requiring women who become pregnant from rape to negotiate additional red tape to terminate that pregnancy forces them to bear an even greater burden for the crime perpetrated against them. Women should not have to plan ahead for rape and buy a second insurance plan in advance, just as they should not have to carefully select the clothing they wear to prevent being sexually assaulted.
Preventing insurance plans from covering abortion is a popular anti-choice tactic — and represents just one of many ways that anti-choice politicians successfully drive up the cost of women’s reproductive rights — but Michigan’s stringent version of the policy is out of step with the national standard. The federal government, 32 states, and the District of Columbia all offer exceptions in the cases of rape and incest in their bans on public funding for abortion. Americans also overwhelmingly support ensuring that victims of rape and incest have access to abortion services.
This isn’t the first time that abortion opponents have suggested that sexual assault is somehow analogous to car trouble. In 2011, when Kansas was considering the time type of insurance ban, a state lawmaker suggested that women could plan ahead for rape just like drivers plan ahead by bringing a spare tire.