Michigan GOP Senate Candidate Silent On ‘Rape Rider’ Law

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Just after the Michigan state legislature passed a law banning private insurance companies to bundle abortion care coverage along with state-subsidized plans, the Democrat jockeying for the open seat vacated by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) was quick to slam the law as bad for women while the Republican candidate has yet to make a statement.

Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI), the lead Democratic candidate in the race, was quick to slam Republicans in the state legislature for passing a new “rape insurance bill” into law.

“Our state is now one of only eight in the nation that will require women to pay more for their health care coverage and will ban insurance coverage for abortions even in the case of sexual assault,” Peters said in a statement. “Not only does this law unfairly discriminate against women, it makes health care coverage more expensive so Michigan women and their families are going to find it a little harder to make ends meet to cover their insurance.”

But so far, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) has stayed quiet on the issue. She has refrained from releasing a public statement and her campaign did not return multiple requests for comment from TPM.

The law, the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act, forces women and employers to buy an extra insurance rider to cover abortions even in the case of rape and incest. The law, which was previously vetoed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R), was passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate to become law. A constitutional provision allows petitioners to send laws directly to the state legislature and circumvent the governor’s approval.

The Republican Party is taking pains to make sure their candidates don’t make mistakes in handling controversial issues like abortion. Recently the National Republican Congressional Committee met with incumbent candidates’ aides to discuss how to handle such topics and avoid a situation like with Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), who asserted women could “shut down” a pregnancy naturally in the case of a “legitimate rape.”

Peters seems be ready to capitalize on any possible GOP gaffe on the Michigan law, coming out strong against the measure.

“This law does not represent Michigan. It is not right. It is not just. And I promise to my daughters and to families across Michigan, your voice will be heard,” Peters continued in an email to supporters. “We will fight back.”

Though Land hasn’t commented on the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act, she has been endorsed by Michigan Right to Life, which backed the law and collected over 300,000 signatures from Michigan voters to trigger a vote.

The law was also passed after a strongly emotional floor debate. At one point, Democratic State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer shared that she had been raped 20 years ago during a speech arguing against the law.

“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 unwated pregnancy from an attacker,” Whitmer said. “If this were law then and I had become pregnant, I would not be able to have coverage because of this. How extreme, how extreme does this measure need to be?”

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