Society and Culture

Fail of the Week: Michigan’s Rape Insurance Law

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Remember when F-Word blogger Hannah R. Winsten reported back in December that Michigan lawmakers were debating a bill that would prevent health insurance plans from covering abortion, essentially requiring women to purchase what came to be known as rape insurance? Well, that revolting bill is now a revolting law thanks to the Michigan GOP and (I am disappointed to say) three Democrats. Yep, rape insurance is real, people.

However, the real doozy is that abortion riders don’t exist. (Straight swindle!)

As the Detroit News explains, “the state “opt-out” rider law clashes with provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which outlaws both separate riders and any government subsidy of abortion. Under federal law insurers cannot offer a rider to a standard, inclusive policy. And new state law bars insurers from including elective abortion coverage in any policy, on or off the exchange.”

What this means: Michigan women who purchase their health insurance as an individual and not part of a group plan don’t have the ‘promised’ option to purchase the abortion rider. Because the bill passed violates the Affordable Care Act’s provisions of outlawing separate riders and government subsidies on a standard policy. This makes it impossible for any insurer to give the option of selling a separate rider to individual women.

That, my friends, is what we call a grade-A cluster fuck.

It is hard to say whether the politicians knew and just didn’t care that the bill clashes with the federal healthcare law; however, it is easy to confirm who pays the price. Michigan women have only one option: pay that abortion fee.

Ashley Powell (@danceAPdance)

Click here to read the original post published December 5, 2013.

Happy almost Friday, folks! This week is almost over. THANK GOODNESS. Coming back after a holiday is rough, am I right?

If you have a uterus and you live in Michigan, your week has been especially rough. Shit is getting REAL over there in the Mid-West. Lawmakers in the Great Lakes State are currently debating a bill that would require women to buy rape insurance.

That’s right. Rape insurance.

I tell you, this shit just gets more ridiculous every week I write about it. It’s actually insane.


Here’s how it’s going down. Lawmakers in Michigan don’t want health insurance to cover abortion. Why? They’re not fans of a woman’s right to choose, and so, while they can’t completely outlaw abortion, they can use insurance technicalities to restrict women’s options.

What happens when insurance doesn’t cover abortions? Women either have babies that they don’t want or are unable to carry, or they pay a hefty price to terminate. Obviously, not ideal. So! While Wolverine legislators were batting around this nifty little bill, the same question came up that always comes up when we start talking about restricting women’s access to abortions.

“But what about cases of rape and incest?!” Because, empathy. For like, five seconds.


The legislators of Michigan had an answer ready and waiting. Make women buy additional insurance to cover the possibility of needing an abortion in the future.

This little tidbit prompted Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to veto the bill last year when it was first introduced. He wasn’t too keen on legislation that required women to pay for abortions out of pocket, unless of course, they had paid extra for that separate insurance rider. “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage,” Snyder said when he rejected the bill last winter.

Well, duh. Obviously.


That would be like telling a man who had a heart attack that he couldn’t have life-saving surgery, because he didn’t plan ahead and book an operating room beforehand. Or like telling a cancer patient that she can’t receive treatment because she hadn’t reserved a chemo supply ahead of time. Plan ahead, people, be prepared! For all of the possible things that could happen to you ever! (Because that’s possible.)

Folks, let’s get one thing straight. No one plans to get an abortion. Needing one is definitely not a desirable situation to be in. Really, abortions are a last resort. An emergency measure, taken after something has unintentionally gone wrong. Maybe she got raped. Maybe the condom broke. Maybe she forgot to take her birth control pill that day. Maybe she just discovered that the baby won’t survive the pregnancy or infanthood.

Whatever the situation, abortions are last ditch efforts to rectify a bad situation that wasn’t planned for. So asking women to plan for unplanned emergencies — and be monetarily penalized either way — makes absolutely no sense.

It's about as logical as this guy.

It’s about as logical as this guy.

But, alas, the anti-choicers think it does make sense, and they’ve got a rage-inducing argument as to why that is. One prominent advocate of the bill claimed that rape is like a car accident, and it was totally fine to make women pay for extra insurance in order to prepare for it.

This is so incredibly gross on so many levels.

First of all, we’re comparing women’s bodies to cars right now. To cars. Inanimate objects that can be damaged, fixed, or replaced. One car is much like another—it gets you from A to B. Women’s bodies are not like cars. They are not replaceable. Their value doesn’t depreciate after a traumatic event. They are not interchangeable. They are not for you to use.

Actually, women’s bodies are attached to living, breathing, human beings. They happen to have vaginas. But they also have lives, passions, emotions, and agency. And when you liken their bodies being raped to a car being crashed, you ignore the human involved in the trauma. You assume she’s an object, instead of a subject.

Stop that right now.

Stop that right now.

Second of all, expecting women to prepare themselves for rape is absurd and cruel.

Preparation assumes the inevitable. You prepare for a car accident—if we’re going to follow through with this terrible example—because being involved in one, someday, is more or less inevitable. People are stupid. Let a bunch of idiots operate heavy machinery near each other, and things are bound to go wrong eventually. Better prepare yourself for the asshole who forgot to use his blinker and caused a pileup on the freeway.

But rape? That shouldn’t be inevitable. Rape doesn’t happen because of human error. Rape isn’t something that idiots do. Rape happens when one person makes a conscious decision to violate another person. Consent isn’t given. Accidents aren’t made. This isn’t an “oops I didn’t mean to get sexually violent with you, my bad,” kind of situation.

Not at all.


When we treat rape like it is inevitable, we give rapists a free pass. We’re sending them the message that, hey, you’re only human! People make mistakes. No big deal. But it is a big deal. And it wasn’t a mistake. This isn’t like forgetting to use your blinker, or running a red light. This is violence and coercion. And there’s always another option.

So, to all the anti-choicers of Michigan, I have a question for you: If a man was shot, and he had to pay out of pocket to have the bullet removed because he hadn’t planned ahead with elective murder insurance, how would you feel about that?

Like this kid? Maybe?

Probably like this kid.

Not so good, I’m guessing. Because it’s ridiculous to ask a man to prepare himself for the possibility that one day, he might be a homicide victim. No one expects to be on the receiving end of that kind of violence.

So stop asking women to do the same. We don’t need to prepare for our impending rape. We shouldn’t be waiting expectantly, insurance policy in hand, to be the victims of sexual violence. And we sure as hell aren’t cool with legislators putting a price tag on our uteruses.

So, stop it, OK? Just stop it.

Stop restricting our access to safe abortions. Stop legislating our bodies. Stop objectifying us. And stop being so cavalier when it comes to rape.

Do you think the GOP can handle that, folks? Discuss!

Hannah R. Winsten (@HannahRWinsten) is a freelance copywriter, marketing consultant, and blogger living in New York’s sixth borough. She hates tweeting but does it anyway. She aspires to be the next Rachel Maddow.

Featured image courtesy of [ProgressOhio via Flickr]

Ashley Powell
Ashley Powell is a founding member of Law Street Media, and its original Lead Editor. She is a graduate of The George Washington University. Contact Ashley at



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