Monday, December 16, 2013

Correcting Misinformation on the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act

During the recent debate over the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act, opponents of the legislation made a number of false claims about the legislation.

False Claim #1 - Treatment of miscarriages won’t be covered

In her speech on the floor of the Michigan House, Representative Collene Lamonte told a personal story about having a miscarriage at 12 weeks and being treated in the emergency room. She then went on to make the following claim regarding what would have happened had the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act been in place at the time of her miscarriage:

“I would have either been denied this lifesaving procedure that protected my ability to have children and my daughter Grace may have been without a mother today. Or my family would have been burdened with an expensive medical bill that very well may have bankrupted us.”

The Truth
The text of the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act defines elective abortion and clearly says that lifesaving treatment and treatment of a miscarriage is not an elective abortion. Here is the definition of elective abortion in the text of the legislation:

Sec. 11. (a) ... Elective abortion does not include any of the following:

(i) The use or prescription of a drug or device intended as a contraceptive.

(ii) The intentional use of an instrument, drug, or other substance or device by a physician to terminate a woman's pregnancy if the woman's physical condition, in the physician's reasonable medical judgment, necessitates the termination of the woman's pregnancy to avert her death.

(iii) Treatment upon a pregnant woman who is experiencing a miscarriage or has been diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.

False Claim #2 - Signatures gatherers were paid

In an online video, Senator Gretchen Whitmer claimed that “(s)pecial interest groups paid to gather 300,000 votes to get this before the Michigan legislature.”

The Truth
Thousands of Michigan residents voluntarily gathered more than 315,000 signatures and many donated the funds which paid for the printing and mailing of the petitions. Signatures were collected from all 83 of Michigan's counties. No outside firm was hired and no one was paid for the signatures they collected. In her effort to attack this legislation, Whitmer slandered the earnest efforts of thousands of Michigan citizens taking part in the democratic process.

False Claim #3 - Right to Life of Michigan said the goal was to put this legislation on ballot

During her speech on the Senate floor, Senator Gretchen Whitmer claimed that Right to Life of Michigan misled people about whether the legislation would go to the ballot.

“Right to Life told the public their goal was to put this issue on the ballot for all of us to vote on, every one in the state. Again, evidenced by what you’re going here today, a complete lie.”

The Truth
From the beginning of the petition drive, Right to Life of Michigan has openly said the goal was to have this legislation pass with majority support from the Michigan legislature so the legislation wouldn’t go to the ballot.

For example, the question and answer section of the Michigan’s Voice web site says the following:

Q: Will this be on the ballot?

A: It's unlikely. This petition drive is to initiate legislation that was passed in December 2012 by large majorities in the House and Senate but vetoed by the governor. With enough registered voters' signatures, it will become law with a simple majority vote in the state legislature. The governor has no role in approving or vetoing this type of legislation. Prolife people have been successful in the past with citizen initiated petition drives.
Furthermore, an online training seminar specifically notes that the legislation won’t be on the ballot if it receives a majority vote in the Michigan legislature.