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Decline to sign

Graphic by Anne C. Savage

Cross-posted from Eclectablog.

It's not often that less than 3% of a state's citizens get to create new law without having to let the voters decide or the governor to sign it into law but that is exactly what's about to happen in Michigan. Yesterday, the State Board of Canvasser approved petition language submitted by Right to Life of Michigan that would force women to purchase a separate rider on their insurance to cover abortion. Not just government-subsidized or government provided health insurance. ALL health insurance. I'm calling it the "Plan Ahead for Your Abortion" law. If Right to Life can get only 258,088 in 6 months, the measure goes to the legislature which has 40 days to approve it. If they do, and they will, it becomes law. The rest of Michigan voters will have no say in it and it won't require Governor Snyder's signature.

It's clever, for sure. Right to Life Michigan KNOWS they are on the wrong side of this issue from the majority of Michigan residents and from Governor Snyder himself so they have to bypass the normal process and exploit a loophole made possible by a legislature full of conservative extremists put in place by decades of Republican gerrymandering.

The rhetoric coming from the anti-Choice forces is offensive. Because the measure makes no exceptions in the case of rape, a reporter asked Barbara Listing from Right to Life Michigan how women could be expected to plan ahead for being raped and purchase the extra insurance coverage. Listing's answer was shocking: she compared being raped to having a car accident or having your basement flooded:

It's simply like nobody plans to have an accident, a car accident. Nobody plans to have their homes flooded. And you have to buy extra insurance for those things, too.
Planned Parenthood of Michigan, whose supporters attended the elections board's meeting en masse, released a statement condemning the decision in no uncertain terms:
By pursuing this initiative, extremists in the legislature are trying to go around Governor Snyder and the will of the majority of Michigan voters. This proposal would allow the government to dictate to the private sector what type of insurance coverage can be offered to private customers. Mandating that businesses cannot contract to cover abortions for rape victims, incest victims and women who face health risks is an unwarranted intrusion on the marketplace and a threat to women’s health.  Nearly two-thirds of Michiganders think this is outrageous. We are dedicated to making sure that this effort fails.
It's important to note that this petition is based entirely on a lie, a deception designed to make people uncomfortable about abortions support it. State and federal law already prohibit the use of taxpayer money to provide abortions. Also, companies that provide health insurance for their employees already have the option of putting the abortion coverage in a separate rider. This measure would prevent ALL companies from offering health insurance that covers abortions whether they wish to or not. Not just those decide to and not just insurance provided by the government. But you can be sure that the anti-Choice extremists will tout this as "stop the use of tax money for killing babies", a lie of epic proportions. In fact, the group that submitted the petition language calls itself "No Taxes for Abortion". It's a truly outrageous lie and one they need to tell because nearly two-thirds of Michigan voters reject it.

Planned Parenthood has already rolled out a "Decline to Sign" campaign to inform voters about this deceptive petition drive, encouraging them NOT to sign Right to Life's petitions.

As supporters of Planned Parenthood and women’s health, we need YOUR help to educate the public on why they should NOT sign petitions in favor of this misleading and disingenuous proposal. We will keep you informed in the coming weeks on how you can help stop these politically motivated attacks and government intrusion into women's personal and private decisions.

The proposal deceptively implies that tax dollars are somehow involved in private insurance for abortion care. NO federal, state, or local tax dollars pay for abortions in Michigan—it’s already the law.

The petition has nothing to do with how abortions are funded. It is about who decides what should or should not be covered by someone’s personal health plan. The initiative would have legislators replace the judgment of women, their families, their faith, their health care provider, and their private insurers.

It's important to educate people about the lies being told by the desperate and extremist anti-Choice zealots. Let people know that it's already law that tax dollars not be used for abortion services and, just as importantly, that this measure would allow just 3.4% of registered Michigan voters to make law for the rest of, nearly two-thirds of whom disagree with it.

Originally posted to Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow on Thu May 23, 2013 at 05:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks, State & Local ACTION Group, and Michigan, My Michigan.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If Snyder wins re-election, (8+ / 0-)

    I'm moving.  

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House. Elizabeth Warren 2016

    by dkmich on Thu May 23, 2013 at 05:23:44 AM PDT

  •  Conservatives sure do hate it when the government (16+ / 0-)

    interferes with and regulates private sector businesses, don't they :/

    I guess banning insurance companies from selling or providing coverage isn't regulation, it's actually FREEDOM!

    "I'll make pancakes." -- Sarah Connor

    by here4tehbeer on Thu May 23, 2013 at 05:30:15 AM PDT

    •  Freedom for the 3%, not the 97% (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eclectablog, Sam Sara, here4tehbeer

      And yes, I realize most of the business owners are not the 3% (kind-of by definition) but I mean it to dramatize the incredible disparity between who benefits vs. who suffers.  It's freedom for the Fundamentalists who want to have the power to dictate to all women what they can and cannot do with their bodies, without regard to individual choice and the fact (from the diary) that most people in Michigan oppose this.

  •  Yet another way to outlaw/restrict abortion. (14+ / 0-)

    Yes, I'm sure a mother with a dead child inside her planned ahead for an abortion. Yes, I'm sure a 12 year olf child planned to be raped.

    Planned Parenthood. I wish they would get an endowment evenn one onehundreth of Harvards'.

    2012-2016 President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senator Warren. For a LIFETIME, federal judges. Get the filibuster changed. Steamroll.

    by CuriousBoston on Thu May 23, 2013 at 05:53:38 AM PDT

  •  Michigan is a failed state (17+ / 0-)

    It's not even a democracy anymore.  Michigan has become this fascist 3rd world nation overrun by a military coup.  If the people of Michigan don't wake up soon and take their government back, they're going to have little choice but to flee the state.

  •  This is disgusting. (6+ / 0-)

    But again, we see that elections have consequences. The voters of MI elected a legislature in which the majority is so far to the right that they'd vote for this thing. As disgusting as it is for the minority, it is hard to argue that the majority of voters should have a problem with this as it is their votes that produced this legislature.

  •  While I am basically an atheist (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pierre9045, CoExistNow, ColoTim, Tfill

    the expansion and acceleration of acts like this by the abominations who call themselves GOP legislators, and numerous and the growing hate groups, almost makes me feel like we are in the End Times.
    And yes - I characterize these types of activists as hate groups, what else could you call them? It's just beyond words.

    America is a COUNTRY, not a CORPORATION. She doesn't need a CEO. Vote Obama.

    by manneckdesign on Thu May 23, 2013 at 07:13:07 AM PDT

  •  I'm guessing there is something we can do, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eclectablog, ColoTim, Tfill

    Such as a referendum requiring abortion coverage worded in a way that doesn't allow for legislative 'abortion' of what the majority of Michiganders want.  You see, I am pro life, in the way of progressive folks, and against legislative 'abortions'.

    We can't be passive.  I imagine myself at the farmers market, standing next to the crazy mean ones with their petition drive to take us back to 1960's and before, with our petition drive to give the people rights and choice, like in a democracy.  But I don't know the law, just that we have to take an active stance, we have too!

    The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

    by sydneyluv on Thu May 23, 2013 at 07:38:59 AM PDT

    •  People in Michigan need to print up the current (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eclectablog, Tfill

      laws where they state that government money can't be used for abortion and have that ready so any time they see one of these petition signers they can go stand next to them and counter their pitch.

      People in Michigan I'm sure will not believe a random person who says that the law forbids this funding but they might believe it if it's in black and white as in the text of some of the laws.  They'll probably also think this just means it's a petition to get something on the ballot like so many other measures (and I'm sure the petition gatherers won't clarify this).  Signing to get something on a ballot doesn't hurt as much as signing to get something into law, which this does.

      When faced with ballot measures I don't like, I vote against it twice - once by declining to put it on the ballot and then, if it is on the ballot, once again to defeat it.  Michiganders aren't going to get that second option and I'm sure they'll be tricked into supporting that first action.

  •  Didn't know MI had that kind of I&R process (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, CoExistNow, ColoTim, RUNDOWN, Tfill

    That has to be one of the most abusive initiative processes I've ever heard about.

    3% of the population can bypass the governor?

    One question: how does the state arrive at the required number of signatures?

    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

    by Phoenix Rising on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:38:25 AM PDT

    •  It requires... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...8% of the number of votes for governor in the previous gubernatorial election.

      Details HERE.

      If the petition contains a sufficient number of valid signatures the state legislature has 40 session days to adopt or reject the proposal. If the legislature rejects the law, then the measure is placed on the next general election ballot.

      "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
      -- Dr. Peter Venkman

      Join me, Anne C. Savage & LOLGOP at

      by Eclectablog on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:54:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Now I know I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, (0+ / 0-)

    but how does this become a legal law in MI without either a referendum vote, or the governors signature?

    Fuck me! He made it. Will Scarlet

    by dagolfnut on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:44:37 AM PDT

    •  Through the "indirect initiative state statute"... (0+ / 0-)


      From BallotPedia:

      An indirect initiated state statute has the following characteristics:

      (1) It is citizen-initiated, through the collection of signatures.
      (2) Once the signatures are collected, the proposed law is sent to that state's state legislature.
      (3) Depending on the specific laws in that state, the state legislature typically can either choose:

      1. Not to act on the measure at all, in which case the measure is placed on the state's statewide ballot and the voters decide its fate.
      2. To pass the law as written by the group that initiated it.
      3. To amend and then pass the law
      4. To come up with a law of its own addressing the same subject as the citizen-initiated measure and place that law on the ballot along with the citizen-initiated measure, allowing the state's voters to choose the version they prefer.
      In Michigan, only the first and second options are available. The number of votes required is 8% of the number of votes for governor in the previous gubernatorial election.

      Details HERE.

      If the petition contains a sufficient number of valid signatures the state legislature has 40 session days to adopt or reject the proposal. If the legislature rejects the law, then the measure is placed on the next general election ballot.

      "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
      -- Dr. Peter Venkman

      Join me, Anne C. Savage & LOLGOP at

      by Eclectablog on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:57:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oops (0+ / 0-)

        Should have said "indirect initiated state statute" process. Also, the number of signatures required is 8% of the number who voted for governor in the previous election.

        "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
        -- Dr. Peter Venkman

        Join me, Anne C. Savage & LOLGOP at

        by Eclectablog on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:20:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Like I said, 'not the sharpest tool' here, but I (0+ / 0-)

          cannot find anywhere in my reading the states this initiative, presented to and passed by the legislature becomes the law of the land without a referendum vote by the people, or the governors signature. I get that if they reject the initiative it automatically goes before the people for a vote, and I don't see them doing that, but what is the process by which this becomes MI law without being signed by the governor?

          Fuck me! He made it. Will Scarlet

          by dagolfnut on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:46:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Here's more (0+ / 0-)

            From HERE (pdf):

            The Indirect Initiative Process
            By Fred Silva

            The indirect initiative is a process by which voters can submit a measure to their state legislature for consideration. In general, the legislature has a set period of time to adopt or reject the proposal. If it is adopted by the legislature, the measure becomes law (albeit one subject to referendum). If the measure is rejected or the legislature fails to act within a set period of time, the measure is generally placed on the ballot at the next general election. Currently, the constitutions of ten states provide for an indirect initiative process: Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

            "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
            -- Dr. Peter Venkman

            Join me, Anne C. Savage & LOLGOP at

            by Eclectablog on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:56:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Understood, but does not really answer the ?. (0+ / 0-)

              How does an indirect initiative, presented to and passed by the MI legislature become a legal law without either a referendum vote or the governors signature? Your premise that state law can be enacted solely by the legislatures passage of said law does not jive with my understanding of how laws come into being.

              Fuck me! He made it. Will Scarlet

              by dagolfnut on Thu May 23, 2013 at 10:28:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  This process is in the MI state constitution. (0+ / 0-)

                Yes, it's a fucked up undemocratic process. For the reasons you give.

                "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

                by nosleep4u on Thu May 23, 2013 at 11:28:25 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  How do they get around this? (0+ / 0-)

                  from the MI State Constitution,

                  16. Every bill passed by the legislature shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the governor; if he approve, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to that house in which it originated, who shall enter the objections at large upon their journal, and proceed to reconsider it; if, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of all the members present agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent with the objections to the other house, by whom it shall  Constitution of the State of Michigan of 1835 State Archives of Michigan 8 likewise be reconsidered and if approved also by two-thirds of all the members present in that house, etc, etc.
                  It cannot become law without 1. approval from the governor, 2. a legislative over ride of a governors veto, or 3. an affirmative referendum vote of the people. If it can, as this diary suggests, then none of us understand correctly how the legislative process works.

                  Fuck me! He made it. Will Scarlet

                  by dagolfnut on Thu May 23, 2013 at 12:04:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Article II, Section 9 of the Michigan Constitution (0+ / 0-)


                    § 9 Initiative and referendum; limitations; appropriations; petitions.

                    Sec. 9.

                    The people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and to enact and reject laws, called the initiative, and the power to approve or reject laws enacted by the legislature, called the referendum. The power of initiative extends only to laws which the legislature may enact under this constitution. The power of referendum does not extend to acts making appropriations for state institutions or to meet deficiencies in state funds and must be invoked in the manner prescribed by law within 90 days following the final adjournment of the legislative session at which the law was enacted. To invoke the initiative or referendum, petitions signed by a number of registered electors, not less than eight percent for initiative and five percent for referendum of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected shall be required.

                    No law as to which the power of referendum properly has been invoked shall be effective thereafter unless approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon at the next general election.

                    Any law proposed by initiative petition shall be either enacted or rejected by the legislature without change or amendment within 40 session days from the time such petition is received by the legislature. If any law proposed by such petition shall be enacted by the legislature it shall be subject to referendum, as hereinafter provided.

                    If the law so proposed is not enacted by the legislature within the 40 days, the state officer authorized by law shall submit such proposed law to the people for approval or rejection at the next general election. The legislature may reject any measure so proposed by initiative petition and propose a different measure upon the same subject by a yea and nay vote upon separate roll calls, and in such event both measures shall be submitted by such state officer to the electors for approval or rejection at the next general election.

                    Any law submitted to the people by either initiative or referendum petition and approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon at any election shall take effect 10 days after the date of the official declaration of the vote. No law initiated or adopted by the people shall be subject to the veto power of the governor, and no law adopted by the people at the polls under the initiative provisions of this section shall be amended or repealed, except by a vote of the electors unless otherwise provided in the initiative measure or by three-fourths of the members elected to and serving in each house of the legislature. Laws approved by the people under the referendum provision of this section may be amended by the legislature at any subsequent session thereof. If two or more measures approved by the electors at the same election conflict, that receiving the highest affirmative vote shall prevail.

                    The legislature shall implement the provisions of this section.

                    History: Const. 1963, Art. II, § 9, Eff. Jan. 1, 1964

                    Constitutionality: A law proposed by initiative petition which is enacted by the Legislature without change or amendment within forty days of its reception takes effect ninety days after the end of the session in which it was enacted unless two-thirds of the members of each house of the Legislature vote to give it immediate effect. Frey v Department of Management and Budget, 429 Mich 315; 414 NW2d 873 (1987).

                    Basically, the citizens of Michigan can propose laws and the legislature approves or doesn't. The governor is not involved.

                    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
                    -- Dr. Peter Venkman

                    Join me, Anne C. Savage & LOLGOP at

                    by Eclectablog on Thu May 23, 2013 at 01:09:03 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Thank you, that extended quote clears up the (0+ / 0-)

                      issues I had. Michigan, sigh. Well lets hope it is determined to be unconstitutional or can be blocked before it goes into effect and be shot done in a referendum vote. Not that referendum helped a hell of alot with the EMer's.

                      Fuck me! He made it. Will Scarlet

                      by dagolfnut on Thu May 23, 2013 at 02:35:24 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  I would be merciless with petition gatherers (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eclectablog, Radiowalla, RUNDOWN, Tfill

    Very, very unkind - hostile even.

    It's time to show your cards.

    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. -

    by No one gets out alive on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:01:09 AM PDT

  •  what about a competing petition? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Could PP or another organization draft a competing petition proposing a law that "All employers are permitted to choose to offer health insurance that covers abortion services."  And if necessary add a hook that "No taxpayer dollars will be used to fund any abortion."  I wouldn't want that language but it could head off criticism.

  •  And from Eclectablog about bill 136 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the your boss gets to decide your healthcare bill.  Petition in this article, please consider signing and passing along.


  •  Why gerrymandering is so dangerous (5+ / 0-)

    A minority is able to impose its will upon the majority on an issue of grave importance. This probably won't be the last time, either.

    The net effect of gerrymandering is to disenfranchise the majority which can only lead to mass frustration and anger. This isn't good for a society and is completely undemocratic. We have to find a better way to draw districts than this arbitrary, politicized process.

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Thu May 23, 2013 at 10:11:56 AM PDT

  •  Sounds like (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are some opportunities for progressive initiatives as well.

    How about one for marriage equality?

    Or requiring background checks for all gun purchases?  Or even an acknowledgement of climate change?

    Sure the legislature will most likely vote them down, but then they are on record, which can be used in campaigning for changes.

    A lot of these issues are things that non-single-issue voters will remember when they cast their votes.

    •  Sounds good (0+ / 0-)

      But I bet they are playing this card now since it requires a sympathetic legislature to comply - and to allow this to proceed.

      This current MI government is not sympathetic to any progressive causes - bottom line, this is the MI government MI voted for - voting them out is the only recourse.

      Conservatism is an obsession with the past ... with little regard for the future.

      by RUNDOWN on Thu May 23, 2013 at 11:24:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not with this legislature. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's a gerrymandered GOP majority.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Thu May 23, 2013 at 11:32:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This only works for laws ("statutory") (0+ / 0-)

      For changes to the constitution, we do not have the indirect initiative process, only the direct.

      Could work for the background checks, I think, but marriage equality is in our constitution.

      Also, that's a whole hell of a lot of work just to prove what we already know: our legislature is full of ideologically extreme corporatists and far-right religious types.

      "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."
      -- Dr. Peter Venkman

      Join me, Anne C. Savage & LOLGOP at

      by Eclectablog on Thu May 23, 2013 at 12:36:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Free market good. Regulation bad* (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WheninRome, Eclectablog

    *Unless it forces sluts to give birth.

    Wouldn't it be great if we had a media that pointed out all of the GOP hypocrisy?

    Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

    by Mike S on Thu May 23, 2013 at 11:42:17 AM PDT

  •  I say fight fire with fire... (0+ / 0-)

    If they get to have laws passed by petition, we should be able to put out a petition that all laws passed in favor of that group should be ruled null and void.

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