Dec. 18 2013 12:00 AM

Tells lawmakers she was raped. Senate, unmoved, votes to mandate abortion rider provision.


(Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, attacked new abortion legislation in a floor speech excerpted here. Both houses approved the measure.)

“Apparently the holiday season of goodwill toward men reads more like ill will toward women as the Republican male majority continues to ignorantly and unnecessarily weigh in on important women’s health issues that they know nothing about.

As a legislator, a lawyer, a woman and a mother of two girls, I think the fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive, let alone the way it has been orchestrated and shoved through the Legislature. And to those of you who are aghast that I would use a term like rape insurance to describe the proposal here in front of us, you should be more offended that it’s an absolutely accurate description of what this proposal requires.

This tells women that were raped and became pregnant that they should have thought ahead and bought special insurance for it. By moving forward on this initiative, Senate Republicans want to essentially require Michigan women to plan ahead and financially invest in health care coverage for potentially having their bodies violated and assaulted. Even worse, it would force parents to have similar and unthinkably terrible discussions about planning the same for their daughters.

I have said it before and I will say it again: This is by far one of the most misogynistic proposals I have ever seen in the Michigan Legislature. And I am not the only one who knows that Right to Life of Michigan has pushed this twice before, and two times before, two different Republican governors stood up and vetoed it with conviction. … Unfortunately in their thirst for political power at all costs, Right to Life refused to abandon their extremist agenda in the face of political and public opposition to this terrible idea. Instead, they started this petition drive to circumvent the governor entirely. More shamefully, their plan is to circumvent the people of Michigan. … The reality is, over the past couple of weeks I’ve heard from nearly as many Republicans as I have democrats, including many Republicans that even signed Right to Life’s initiative who are disgusted to find out you are subverting the democratic process to make this law. To claim something is a citizen’s initiative or that you are only acting on the will of the people, you have to be able to back that up. But you can’t even come close.

Not only are you trying to enact a law brought to us by only 4 percent of our population, but polling suggests only one-third of Michigan’s entire population supports your plan. By the way, I’ve seen the polling, and that abysmal support is true in every one of your districts. In what world does that constitute a will of the people? … Your action is in complete disregard of the variety of circumstances women face — circumstances you either don’t understand or frankly don’t care about. This applies to a planned pregnancy that has gone awry, wherein a woman needs a medically necessary D & C procedure. It also applies to the deplorable acts of rape and incest that result in an unwanted pregnancy. These women will have no recourse unless they anticipated the unimaginable — unless they planned to have these unspeakable things happen to them. … I have a lot more prepared remarks here but I think it’s important for me to just mention a couple things. … Because there are people in this chamber who have lived through things you can’t even imagine. I have a colleague who I was trying to encourage to tell his story, but he’s still grieving. But it was a planned pregnancy that went awry and required a D & C.

And I started to think about that and I thought: I can’t push one of my colleagues to share a tough story if I’m not brave enough to share one of my own. And so I’m about to tell you something that I have not shared with many people in my life. But over 20 years ago I was a victim of rape. And thank God it didn’t result in a pregnancy. Because I can’t imagine going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker. And as a mother with two girls, the thought that they would go through something like I did keeps me up at night. I thought this was all behind me. You know how tough I can be. The thought and the memory of that still haunts me.

If this were law then and I had become pregnant, I would not be able to have coverage because of this. How extreme does this measure need to be? I’m not the only woman in our state that has faced that horrible circumstance. I am not enjoying talking about it. It’s something I have hidden for a long time. But I think you need to see the face of the women that you are impacting by this vote today. I think you need to think of the girls that we are raising and what kind of a state we want to be where you would put your approval on something this extreme.

I ask that you at least let the people of the state have a vote on this. Don’t ram it through using some loophole that is going to impact 100 percent of the women in this state when only 4 percent of the people signed on to a petition.

Let the people decide. Let the people of Michigan decide.”

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