MICHIGAN: House Committee Tables Abortion-Insurance Bill
Legislative debate on a Michigan bill that "would require insurance companies and HMOs to offer abortion services only as an optional rider rather than part of a standard insurance package" has most likely been postponed until after the November elections, the Detroit Free Press reports. Political observers believe that legislators do not want to touch an issue that is "too charged to risk putting front and center seven weeks before the elections." The Legislature has passed several abortion-related bills in the past two years, including tighter restrictions on abortion clinics and a ban on a certain type of late-term abortion. Tom Shields, president of Marketing Resource Group, said that "from a political standpoint, there shouldn't be any need [for legislators] to take up one more bill showing" their stance on the issue. The House Insurance and Financial Services Committee was scheduled to debate the bill, but canceled its meeting on Monday. An aide to the committee chair said the cancelation was necessary because of time constraints, but Rep. Robert Gosselin (R), a sponsor of the measure, said, "I imagine that happened because of the election. It's amazing how that drives everything." Pamela Sherstad, a spokesperson for Michigan Right to Life, was hopeful that legislators would consider the bill after the election. "Insurance should be about promoting healthy lives and healthy living. Many people are against abortion and don't want their money going towards other people getting abortions," she said. Renee Chelian, executive director of a family planning clinic, responded that the legislation would set a "dangerous precedent," adding, "People should be really angry that these politicians are picking and choosing what their insurance companies pay for" (Gray, Detroit Free Press, 9/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.