Battleground Michigan: The War on Women

As the global war on women rages-on under the guise of religion, there are some hopeful signs here in Michigan, and across the nation.

Despite the unending state-by-state GOP attacks on reproductive rights, the affordability and availability of contraception is on the rise under the Affordable Care Act. A recent report from the Guttmacher Institute published in the Contraception Journal found that national out-of-pocket expenses for all forms of prescription birth control have plummeted.

For those using the pill, the number paying no out-of-pocket expenses went from 15 percent to 67 percent, and those that still have a co-pay typically spend about $6.50 for their prescription. Other forms of contraception saw similar reductions in cost.

Guttmacher Chart

Yet, Michigan remains a battleground in the GOP war on women, and Democratic lawmakers are fighting back.

Readers may recall when Attorney General Bill Schuette filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Michigan, and 17 other states, in support of Conestoga Wood as part of a companion case in the Hobby Lobby decision. The court ruled that “closely-Gretchensheld” (family-run) corporations may exercise a religious exemption from the ACA requirement to provide abortion-inducing forms of birth control.

The “Gretchen Caucus” will have none of this, and they’re fighting back with legislation.

Rep. Gretchen Driskell (D-52) and Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-23) have introduced identical bills titled the “Reproductive Health Coverage Information Act” which would require potential employers to disclose up-front that they are taking a religious exemption:

HB-5797 excerpt

Rep. Driskell made the additional point that contraceptives aren’t always just about birth control, as they are frequently “prescribed to women for a variety of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with contraception but address serious medical issues.”

Driskell went on to explain: “Whether or not a company’s contraceptive coverage is comprehensive can be an important factor for a family to consider when making decisions about a job prospect…that way, the market can decide what kind of coverage employees value.”

Another market-based legislative remedy has been proposed to counter the so-called “rape insurance” law from earlier this year. The law requires women to purchase a special rider policy to cover abortion, even in the case of rape, incest, or to save the woman’s life. Stemming from a Right-to-life, church-backed, initiated law petition drive last year, it was enacted by GOP lawmakers as a by-pass to the ballot process. They knew it wouldn’t survive a popular vote.

Special abortion riders are not even offered by health insurers.

So, Rep. Pam Faris (D-48) and Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-18) have proposed matching bills to require insurance companies to offer optional abortion coverage:

HB-5858 excerpt

All four of these bills will predictably remain stalled in committee.

As an added insult, Michigan’s women may experience more GOP assaults on their reproductive rights in the upcoming lame duck session — all indications show it will be another GOP free-for-all.

Who knows what egregious things they have in store?

Republican women know.

By way of illustration, we offer the GOP propensity to put women out front to deliver each new dose of misogyny, as so well evidenced recently.

Snyder date adThe tone-deaf patriarchy of Republicans was brought into sharp focus last week when they promoted an on-line ad that was an out-right insult to the intelligence of Michigan’s young female voters. The now infamous “Say Yes to the Rick Snyder” campaign spot is not the first of its kind — the College Republican National Committee also produced an equally repugnant spot titled “The Candidate” styled after another inane reality TV show.

Both ads are making the rounds on Michigan campuses — but as a joke.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

Read HB-5797 and SB-1044 on corporate disclosure of religious exemptions. Read HB-5858 and SB-1095 on requiring insurers to provide special rider policies.


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