If Republicans have been trying to avoid the subject of rape — after that one word helped to cost them two Senate seats in 2012, they’ve now failed miserably.
Quietly, 23 states have banned any health insurance policies that cover abortion from their state exchanges, with eight states going so far as to require women to purchase a separate policy rider to cover abortion. This in effect forces women to plan ahead for unintended pregnancies that result from contingencies no woman wants to anticipate, especially rape, which the law has no exception for.
Hence the term “rape insurance.”
Nearly all Americans were blissfully unaware of this heinous concept until this week, when Michigan Right to Life used an obscure tactic to go around Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI), who vetoed a rape insurance measure last year.
With signatures representing only 3.4 percent of the state’s voting population, the group used an indirect initiated state statute to bring the initiative back to the state legislature, where it could have been ignored or passed into law without the governor’s signature.
Michigan’s Republicans decided to vote the legislation into law — though the only polling on the issue shows it is opposed by 64 percent of voters. They did this despite the impassioned testimony of Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing), who revealed that she had been a victim of rape.
Whitmer calls it “one of the most misogynistic proposals I have ever seen in the Michigan Legislature.” And this is a legislature where female representatives were silenced for daring to use the word “vagina.”
This new law is surrounded by questions, says Eclectablog‘s Chris Savage:
It’s worth noting that this new law does not just impact insurance provided by state or federal governments. It covers ALL insurance including private insurance. It begs a couple of questions: What are girls under the age of 26 who are on their parents’ health insurance supposed to do? Also, if you have health insurance through your employer, are you now required to inform them that you want this coverage? This would be a monstrous invasion of medical privacy.
And the most profound question it raises is: Why?
Why would the GOP — in a state President Obama won by 9.5 percent — brand itself with “rape insurance” less than a year before a midterm election where low interest and low turnout could only work to their advantage?
The answer must be that they think they can get away with it.
UPDATE: The Nation‘s Jessica Valenti makes a strong case for not calling this policy “rape insurance.”