Ah, It's Great to Be a Woman: Michigan Marches Forward with Rape Insurance Requirement

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Ah, It's Great to Be a Woman: Michigan Marches Forward with "Rape Insurance" Requirement

By Cindy Davis | Think Pieces | February 27, 2014 | Comments ()


This morning I received an email urging me to sign a petition to support a public referendum against Michigan’s so-called “rape insurance” law (officially, the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act), which automatically goes into effect this March. The law bans state insurance from covering abortions unless a woman’s life is in danger, in effect requiring women to purchase private insurance (a separate rider) to cover herself in case of unintended pregnancy—including rape or incest…thus the “rape insurance” nickname. But as Jessica Valenti points out, that moniker makes it too easy for everyone to brush off the fact that the Insurance Opt-Out doesn’t just affect rape victims, it “hurts all women.” Additionally, Michigan is hardly the first or the only state to be enacting such measures; 8 other states have laws restricting private insurance coverage of abortion, 23 restrict coverage by insurance exchanges, 19 restrict coverage for public employees and 14 states have more than one restriction in place. (Guttmacher Institute) While my general reaction to these continued assaults against women—and trust me, they are assaults—is to want to scream and rage and hurl expletives at these often male-dominated legislative groups, this morning my brain screamed a question: Why is it always the woman who has to pay?

It’s clear 2014 will be a year of continued fighting over control over our bodies, and my little think piece isn’t going to change that. But I do have what I believe is at least a simple question that should be brought into play as while these biased laws are in existence. Why should a woman be the sole person who has to pay for a plan to protect herself against an unwanted pregnancy, and more precisely, a pregnancy that occurs through rape or incest? Why shouldn’t the rapist pay? It’s not enough that a woman has to think about rape. It’s not enough when a woman is raped. It’s not enough trauma to go through a rape. It’s not enough to be questioned and examined and to feel ashamed because another person violated and attacked her. It’s not enough when a rape victim finds out that attack resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. It’s not enough that a good portion of this country wants to force her to carry that child to term. It’s not enough that if she is able to get an abortion, she’ll likely have to walk through a crowd of protesters; that she’ll need to be protected to enter the building where she will have to endure yet another traumatic violation of her body and mind. It’s not enough that the man who raped her left her dealing with all these things; she also has to pay money out of her own pocket to pay for the abortion. You know what? Enough.

How about instead of continuing to attack and blame victims of rape or incest, we go after the perpetrator? While we’re continuing the fight to keep control of ourselves, let us hold rapists responsible for their actions. Instead of putting women in the position of having to purchase a rider in the case of a pregnancy through rape or incest, enact a requirement that men who attack women must pay for any resulting abortion.

Meanwhile, it’s not too late for Michigan. A public referendum could put the Opt-Out Act up for statewide vote. If you’d like to get involved, sign the petition, be aware of upcoming votes, and support agencies like Planned Parenthood, who continue to campaign women’s rights.


Cindy Davis, (Twitter)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Austie

    I want someone to explain it to me, because I've been wanting to know since I was old enough to understand the concept, but what exactly constitutes a woman's life being in danger during pregnancy? If she will 100% for sure die from continuing the pregnancy? A good chance she'll die? What if it would just seriously harm her long term health?

    Who decides this too? Her doctor or a panel of doctors and politicians and clergymen? Would she need to apply for a special permit to get said abortion? Sounds like a lot of bureaucracy to me, and we know how the GOP feels about that. And what if it takes longer than 24 weeks to decide/process the request?

    And why I am the only one asking these questions when anti-choicers say they feel abortion should be allowed in cases of the mother's life being in danger?

  • Shannon

    This may be a stupid question because I simply don't know much about "the system"... if the accused gets court appointed representation why can't the victim a court appointed physician? This is poorly worded, I know. But do you get what I mean?

  • I wonder if Michigan is one of the states that allows a rapist to sue his victim to prevent her from getting an abortion and for visitation rights?

  • deadnotsleeping

    Why is birth control framed as a women's issue, as if it's all about women? Lesbian women do not need birth control. Men make birth control necessary for some women. But the patriarchy frames it as a woman's issue so they can make it easier to take away (if men were allowed to realize how vital it is to their desires, there'd be much more of an uproar from the XY section of our population). As long as they keep the focus on suppressing women's voices and especially women's sexuality, these conservative lawmakers are going to make a lot more headway.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Exactly, you can't get spontaneously get pregnant. You need a sperm. And last time I checked that came from men.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Cuz all wimmen are sluts (except mom) who use their sexual willies to mind control men into sleeping with them. They are fickle, too, cuz as soon as the man's finished, they scream "rape" and want to abort.


  • Chris Adams

    I thought this was an entertainment site.

  • foolsage

    Here's a picture of Bieber being carried up the Great Wall of China, then.


    There you go. Is that what you meant by entertainment?

    Personally, I prefer interesting discussions to this sort of thing, but to each their own.

  • TK

    We like to think of it as an entertainment site with a side of intellectual discourse. But by all means, continue to bitch about fostering intelligent discussion.


  • CassondraStellhorn

    Its good step for empower the woman to raise the voice against rapist and accused person in which involved in the Incident.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I'm still unclear on why lawmakers are so afraid of abortion laws. Do they think women have abortion parties? Do they think we dream of having them when we're little girls? Do children play abortion and I just never noticed?
    It's a sad fact of life, and I doubt that anyone is thrilled to have an abortion - you may not regret it, but that's a far cry from "gosh I'm glad I had an abortion, I want to have another one tomorrow!"
    And honestly, shouldn't men have to pay for the insurance as well? You know, it does take sperm to make an unwanted pregnancy...so aren't they liable too?

  • Ben

    Abortion parties are the best, you know all the chicks their put out...

    ... ok I'll leave now I'm sorry.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Yeah, I was all prepared to be offended, then the giggles started...

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    I laughed!

  • Maddy

    Apparently it's like gay people - they have parties and indoctrinate people into their brainwashed cult

  • golden goose

    the idea of rapists having to pay is a good one, but unfortunately only about 1-3% of rapists ever see any jail time. put in the average time it takes to go to trial etc, the baby would be born. reimbursement would probably be more likely and lets face it that sucks. its a large chunk of money to have pay upfront and then carry for up to a year or more. i know civil court is a little easier, but you still have to go through the whole rigmarole. and im sure many would not be willing to pay bc it would be seen as an admission of guilt.

  • John W

    I'm sure this war on women won't be mentioned on Faux News.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    To them, it's a war on Christian beliefs. Just like anytime Miley Cyrus eats a hot dog.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    Good to see legislation is still being created based on religious beliefs, forcing them on the rest of us. It sure as shit isn't about protecting life or maybe we'd spend more effort on protecting these living, breathing women, rather than shaming them and making them pay for someone else's irresponsibility and malice.

  • JustOP

    It's stories like this that make me thank my lucky stars that I was born in Britain. American healthcare/insurance appalls me. Hopefully this insanity gets overturned swiftly.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    It makes me happy I was born in Canada, where we just refuse to legislate on it entirely, thereby making it legal since there is nothing on the law books about it; but since we're so close/neighbourly with the US, I get really REALLY apprehensive when I see stuff like this.

  • Bert_McGurt

    May the ghost of Henry Morgentaler haunt these legislators to their last day.

  • Michigan GOP blames Obamacare for "rape insurance" provision in 3...2...1...

  • Shame Michigan isn't hosting a Super Bowl the NFL could threaten to relocate upon passage of this bill. Worked yesterday in AZ.

  • Mrs. Julien

    "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."

  • e jerry powell

    "[If they could menstruate, M]en would brag about how long and how much."
    -- Gloria Steinem

  • loo shag brolley

    "Duuuude, you should have been over last night. TOTAL pyroclastic flow."

  • Sara_Tonin00

    That sounds terrifying.

  • e jerry powell

    Like I said, Kotex can't help with that...

  • Jim

    "And if GAY men had a period? {pause} What do you mean, if?"
    - Margaret Cho

  • BendinIntheWind

    How do we force rapists to pay for abortions when ~60% of sexual assaults are not even reported, only 25% of these reported cases result in an arrest, and less than 10% of those arrests lead to sentencing?

  • Dumily

    And more to the point, a pregnancy as a result of a rape is horrific. But being denied abortion services period is horrific. I pay money for health insurance in order to receive any medical treatment I and my doctors decide is necessary, not just the ones of which the Michigan Assembly approves.

  • foolsage

    Fair point. I'm of the mind that anything is better than nothing here though. If a law existed that made rapists pay for ALL health treatment (abortion, counseling, STD checks) resulting from their rapes, that wouldn't prevent rape, but it would at least make things a little better for some victims.

  • BendinIntheWind

    If this were somehow put into law and enforced, of course I would be in favor - but realistically, I don't see any way to force payment without a level of due process, and considering the timeframe in which one can safely terminate a pregnancy, versus the time it takes to get a case through the court system, I'm not optimistic.

  • foolsage

    I'm not optimistic either, but for very cynical reasons. I.e. this law would have to be supported and passed by a bunch of old white men.

    You're very right though; such a law would require an overhaul of how we treat rape cases. It's not feasible in this environment, even putting aside the problem of a male-dominated legislature who simply don't much care about problems that only happen to women (or poor people, or gays, or Muslims, or...).

  • Dumily

    What about "rape is a social problem therefore it's society's responsibility to pay for rapes affects"? We all pay for the cost until we can all make sure rape doesn't happen. (Yes, I know rapes will still occur somewhere somehow regardless of what society does to combat it. But maybe we can get it down to murder rates?)

  • foolsage

    That's basically how medical insurance works now. The GOP is of course trying hard to change that.

    How about the "party of personal responsibility" actually holds people accountable for their actions?

    Heh, yeah, right, as if that'll ever happen.

  • Dumily

    I think maybe you could sell that to them though. Why not just buy all health insurance piecemeal? I'm never going to have my prostate checked, so I don't need insurance for that. Since I'm a woman, my chances of developing heart disease are significantly lower than that of a man. Just give me half the insurance you would for a guy my age. Same thing with most accidents since by and large women are less aggressive than men. And I strongly dislike guns, and try to be around them as little as possible. No gunshot wound insurance needed. How about I get a break in my insurance cost, and we charge the Michigan GOP members for an "Old White Men with Guns and ATVs" insurance rider?

  • foolsage

    Insurance is predicated on the idea that we lump together huge groups of people to even out the risks. If we separated out people by medical issues, that in turn would lead to those people with higher risks (or who need special treatment that other groups do not, e.g. obstetrics) being charged a LOT more.

    This would not be good for women.

  • Dumily

    Sorry, I need a sarcasm font. I'm fully in favor of single payer insurance.

  • foolsage

    Ack, I missed the sarcasm entirely. I need more caffeine.

    Single-payer systems are freaking awesome. I had some stomach issues while I lived in Australia and got immediate treatment. I think I might have had to pay $5 for a processing fee when I first visited the doctor's office.

  • Dumily

    It happens. And when dealing with the internet, I've learned never to underestimate how stupid people can be.

    Universal healthcare is one of the top five reasons on my "We Need to Get the Hell Out of Here and Go to Canada" list. I've been sending it to close friends and family for years.

  • foolsage

    Poe's Law is a tricky one. ;)

    Canada is a fairly wonderful place. If it weren't so damned cold I'd be strongly tempted.

  • Dumily

    You know, I don't want to get off topic, but I think my problem is that I haven't found a sarcasm emoticon I'm comfortable with yet. I usually fall back on the smiley/ winky face, but my in-person delivery is usually so dry (aka cold and emotionless like a shark) that I feel like it doesn't quite match up. Is there an April Ludgate symbol I'm unaware of? Can we make one? Better yet, can I somehow start doting all of my "i"s with tiny little Ludgate faces?

  • emmalita

    Excellent description. My favorite ex boyfriend once described my sense of humor as "so arid some people don't know she has a sense of humor."

  • loo shag brolley

    Now I'm reminded of an old deodorant ad and can only think, "Get a little closer."

  • foolsage

    Such a thing would be very useful. I've seen a few attempts to put together some sort of sarcasm indicator over the last few decades but none ever took off.

    There is a sarcasm font, for instance. And there's bb code for it: use [ sarcasm ] stuff here [ / sarcasm ] without the spaces.

    [sarcasm]Nobody really uses sarcasm though, so it probably doesn't matter.[/sarcasm]

    We need a basic HTML code for this though. E.g. <sarcasm>Though on the internet everyone already understands each other anyhow.</sarcasm>

  • ScienceGeek

    You know, I think I'd almost be willing to pay for 'rape insurance' that covers the legal costs of suing the hell out of a rapist. Yes, it says all kind of terrible things about the effectiveness of current justice system, but at this point, I'm about ready to take whatever crumbs we can get.

  • Martin Holterman

    I'll do you one better: once your insurance company has paid for your abortion, they can sue the rapist for you. (You'd still have to testify, though, which is why this rarely happens.)

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    I believe she was trying to posit 'in a more perfect world' scenario. Offering a more just repercussion, rather than just screaming at the injustice of it ALL.

  • BendinIntheWind

    How can you separate the two, though? We're getting angry about the injustice of women paying for their own rape-created abortions, but we're yelling at a symptom rather than the cause.

    If we're positing "In a perfect world" scenarios, why not start at the root:

    "Wouldn't it be great if rape wasn't such a HUGE fucking problem in this country?"

    (WOW I wish I could think of a better phrase than "rape-created", but my mind-well is currently dry)

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    (And as an aside/for the record: I agree with you about yelling at the symptom rather than solving the root, however these symptoms are having a very immediate effect on all women's health put into law by the government that is meant to PROTECT us...It's like a flare up fire that has to be put out fast, lest it spread.)

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    A small pedantic rebuttal - I said a MORE perfect world...not a perfect one. The cynicism/realist in me disallows for that posited reality where rape does not occur.

    And like Cindy, I will take any progress at all rather than this constant barrage of everyone thinking they know what is best for my mind and body. AND ENFORCING IT WITHOUT MY CONSENT.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Of course - there will always be one asshole who has to go and spoil the possibility of a rape-free world, but in a *more* perfect world, there wouldn't be such enormous hurdles for a woman to endure before her attacker is brought to justice.

    We're not going to eradicate rape, but we do have a hell of a long way to go before women feel safe reporting sexual assaults, and feel reasonably assured that justice will be served.

  • You know what, I'll take any instance--however small--of rapists being held accountable.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Just to clarify, I do agree with everything stated here, but realistically, the only way to force the rapist to pay for said abortion is as part of a legal settlement/sentence. By the time a case is reported, investigated, adjudicated, and sentenced, that baby will have already been born.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Civil suits are separate from criminal suits. A woman could have an abortion and then pursue a civil settlement or sue her rapist for costs.

  • BendinIntheWind

    She absolutely could - but how many women I wonder, choose to take on a civil suit against their rapists in the absence of a criminal case? I have no idea how frequently this occurs, but my guess would be that, considering how traumatizing and difficult it already is to pursue a rape case as a criminal suit, pursuing it on a more "personal" level would likely be tougher, and less likely?

    Again: not disagreeing with the idea, just that the execution seems wobbly to me.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    To some extent, it's a little easier - it's up to you, it's not dependent on the DA or police determining whether there's enough evidence. If you know who it is, you make your case. Of course, you would only be hitting him in his wallet, so it's a less satisfactory form of justice.

    However, I don't recommend googling the phrase "suing your rapist" because what turns up is incredibly depressing - the top hits are ALL stories about rapists suing to prevent abortions or for child custody/visitation.

  • foolsage

    Well then, this is a law that needs a decade (at least) for its statute of limitations. Let the victim sue 10 years later. Leave the rapist potentially financially responsible, never knowing when their finances might crumble. Bet that would suck, eh? That's not enough, but it's a start.

    Why 10 years? I based that number on the ridiculous Iowa Abortion Regret Bill:


  • BendinIntheWind

    I wish I could respond to your comment, but after reading that link, my brain has decided it's quitting time. For life.

  • foolsage

    Sorry for that. There's a lot of awfulness in the world out there. We all have overload points, and I didn't mean to push you to yours.

    Here's a video of three kittens playing with a puppy:


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