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Michigan NOW State Conference
Uniting for Equality NOW
March 29, 2014 U of M Dearborn
Members and Non-Members Welcome
Panel Discussions and Workshops on Critical Feminist Issues
Read about the conference speakers, download the promotional flyer and registration form. Pay by check or through the PayPal links below (Conference Only; see the PAC page to register and pay for the Michigan NOW PAC Breakfast Fundraiser).
Michigan Legislature Passes Abortion Insurance Ban.
Potential repeal or amendment effort being considered.
Right To Life’s proposed initiated law called the “Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act” to ban health insurance coverage for most abortions passed both houses of the Legislature on December 11, 2013 without any hearings. It is now PA 182 of 2013.
The House vote was 62 – 47 and the Senate vote was 27 – 11. All Republicans voted to approve the law joined by Democratic State Senator Tupac Hunter (Detroit), Democratic State Representatives Terry Brown (Pigeon), Charles Brunner (Bay City), and Independent State Representative John Olumba (Detroit).
Because it was a voter-initiated law under Article II, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution, it was not subject to the Governor’s veto. Republican Governor Rick Snyder had vetoed a similar bill passed by the Legislature one year ago. The initiated law did not receive enough legislators’ votes for immediate effect so it will become law 90 days after the end of the legislative session, around the middle of March 2014.
Referendum to Repeal — Article II, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution also gives voters the right to subject newly enacted legislation to a referendum vote. 161,305 valid voter signatures must be gathered on conforming petitions within 90 days following the final adjournment of the legislative session at which the law was enacted (mid-March 2014). If the Board of State Canvassers certifies sufficient referendum signatures, the implementation of the law would be suspended pending the placement of the law on the next general election ballot for the consideration of the state's voters on November 4, 2014. A majority vote determines whether the law goes into effect.
The number of signatures gathered on the referendum petition needs to be significantly greater than the minimum number required as invalid signatures are eliminated through a Board of State Canvassers’ verification process which involves a random sample of the submitted signatures. Likely over 200,000 signatures would assure sufficient valid signatures.
Given the recent experience with voter repeal of the Emergency Manager Law and the legislature’s subsequent immediate passage of a similar replacement law, a referendum is no guarantee that repealing the ban on abortion coverage in health insurance would be permanent. The current legislature could pass a similar replacement bill shortly after the repeal vote.
Constitutional Amendment — Another more permanent option is an amendment to the Michigan Constitution to assure the right to privacy, reproductive freedom and/or women’s equality. An initiative to amend the State Constitution would require 322,609 valid signatures by July 7, 2014 to go on the November 2014 ballot.
The Center for Reproductive Rights reported in 2009:
. . . the constitutions of Alaska, California, Florida and Montana, unlike the federal constitution, have explicit provisions that protect the right of privacy. Supreme Courts in each of those states have relied on those privacy provisions to strike down restrictions on abortion that would be allowed under the federal constitution. In other states, courts have interpreted other state constitutional provisions—such as Equal Rights Amendments in New Mexico and Connecticut and a privileges and immunities clause in Arizona—to extend greater protection to women seeking abortions than the protection afforded by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
The Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections has published Initiative and Referendum Petitions that explains the process.
What It Will Take — Either a referendum to repeal the new law or an initiative to amend the Constitution will require an enormous amount of effort and money. Thousands of volunteers will be needed to gather signatures and other administrative support functions. Paid circulators may need to be employed. Then we would need sufficient energy, volunteers, and funding to actually win the ballot proposal in November 2014.
And we need to replace all the anti-choice legislators so this doesn’t happen again. All House and Senate seats are up for election in November.