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Abortion Insurance? Right To Life May Have Enough Signatures To Force A Michigan Vote

By Christy Strawser, digital director
LANSING (CBS Detroit) — With a push from Right to Life of Michigan, enough petition signatures may have been gathered to put a proposal before lawmakers that would prohibit health insurance policies from including abortion coverage unless an optional rider is purchased.

The state Bureau of Elections released a review saying the No Taxes for Abortion Insurance group gathered roughly 300,000 valid signatures. They needed 258,000.

"We obtained more signatures than we needed and we did it two months early," said Genevieve Marnon, public affairs associate for Right To Life of Michigan.

Michigan's election board meets Monday to review the signatures. If they're certified, the Republican-led Legislature can vote on the proposal without needing approval from Gov. Rick Snyder, who vetoed the measure this summer. If lawmakers don't vote on it -- or reject it -- within 40 days it goes to voters in November 2014.

"I think if the public has an opportunity to vote on this, it will pass overwhelmingly," Marnon said.

And if the Right to Life plan passes, individuals and business owners would have to buy an optional rider for elective abortion coverage under all private and public insurance plans.

A recent poll by the Detroit News found about 47 percent of likely voters oppose banning insurers from covering abortion procedures in basic health insurance plans; 41 percent supported it; and 13 percent were undecided.

Marnon described it like "optical or dental riders in the sense that you can choose to purchase it or not purchase it." Anyone could purchase it, including men who may want to cover a family member.

Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, states can opt out of universal abortion coverage, and if it passes Michigan would be the 24th state to opt out, Marnon said.

"Several pro-life Dems were not willing to sign on (to the ACA) because it expanded abortion coverage," Marnon said. "Ben Nelson of Nebraska, that's the reason we have this ability to opt out, it was written right into the law."

A first-trimester costs about $500 on average and the rider would "cover any abortion at any time for any reason," Marnon said, adding second and third trimester abortions are significantly  more expensive.

She added the 300,000 signatures were gathered from all 83 counties in Michigan.

"We figure we had 8,000 circulators, that's how many grassroots activists were out collecting signatures," she said.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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