Let the people vote on so-called 'rape insurance' bill

Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013
Let the people vote on so-called
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Passions are still running high in the wake of the state legislature's approval of a controversial law that requires women to buy additional insurance in advance if they want abortion coverage in their health plan.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says Michigan voters who were angered by what happened do have a way to express themselves.

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This law, which makes no exceptions for rape or incest, or for the health of the mother, is the result of frat-boy politics designed to bypass the democratic process.

Over the past year, ever since Governor Snyder vetoed a law just like it, Michigan Right-To-Life circulated a petition that was signed by about 300-thousand people--including virtually all of the Republican Senators and Representatives in our state government.

All told, they account for roughly four percent of our state population.

They call it a veto-proof citizens initiative; but it was really a smug, old-fashioned inside job. A done deal. A slam dunk.

96 percent of the people--who our Republican legislators obviously don't trust--never had a chance to vote.

Most hardly even knew it was happening.

Four percent of the people made a law that effects everyone. This is crushingly unacceptable.

I understand the passion of the opposition to abortion rights. I, myself, believe that life is the right choice.

But our law says women have control over their own bodies. That to carry or not is a choice. So any restrictive law, like this one, ought to have the weight of the people behind it.

But it doesn't.

The latest polls indicate a majority of the people would have voted it down. They don't want government involved with what they see as medical decisions.

And Republicans know that.

To be clear the 'rape insurance' law would prohibit insurers from paying for abortions unless a woman has already purchased coverage through a separate rider.

So ya gotta hope that a future rape or incest victim has the foresight to factor in the outside chance that it might happen. Oh, and by the way...insurers really don't offer that particular rider right now.

But, hey, why should that get in the way?

For the record, most abortions are historically paid for out of-pocket. Health insurance pays for only three or so percent.

The poorest are the ones most likely to use insurance, so under the new law they're the ones most likely to get victimized twice.

It's therefore a solution to a problem that doesn't exist--except for the underclass.

Right now, Democrats are organizing a new petition drive--a drive to get this self-righteously passed law on the ballot next November.

I hope petitioners will be on every corner.

I hope people will sign it. I hope people will earn themselves the chance to vote on it. Republicans subverted the democratic process. This is the only way to regain the higher ground.

Then, once it's voted on, if the people say women do, in fact, have to buy their own rape insurance, so be it. That will be the law of our state.

The people will have spoken. And that's the way it ought to be.

In the meantime, frat-boy lawmakers ought to be ashamed of themselves.

In this corner, I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on December 22, 2014 08:26 GMT

ECONOMY-THE WEEK AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- This is a shortened trading week with the stock and bond markets closed on Christmas Day.

However, there are some interesting government economic reports being released ahead of the holiday.

Today, the National Association of Realtors will report on how many existing homes were sold in November.

On Tuesday, the government will report on last month's new home sales, as well as November's durable goods numbers and personal income and spending for November. It will also report the third-quarter gross domestic product

This week, the government will be releasing last week's jobless claims number a day early, on Christmas Eve. Also on Wednesday, Freddie Mac will report this week's mortgage rates.

SKOREA-ECONOMY

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea has lowered its growth forecast for next weak citing the persistently weak sentiment among consumers and businesses.

The finance ministry said Monday that Asia's fourth-largest economy will expand 3.8 percent in 2015. Six months ago, it forecast 4.0 percent growth.

The downward revision, representing some improvement from 3.4 percent growth this year, shows the government's challenge in encouraging consumers to spend more and businesses to boost investment despite its expansionary policies and the central bank's two rate cuts this year.

Director-General Lee Chanwoo said the recovery in consumer spending and capital expenditure remains weaker than expected in the last two months.

Lee said consumers and businesses still have great uncertainties about next year and the last quarter's improvement in the economy stemmed mostly from the government policies.

SAFEWAY SALE-HAGGEN

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) -- The Washington state-based grocery chain Haggen Inc. plans to buy 146 Albertsons and Safeway stores in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.

The Bellingham Herald reports the sales are required under the federal review of Safeway's sale to an investment group that owns Albertsons.

If Haggen's plans announced Friday get Federal Trade Commission approval, the Bellingham-based company would expand from 18 stores and 16 pharmacies in the Northwest to 164 stores and 106 pharmacies in the five states.

Details of the deal haven't been released.

This is the largest of several sales related to the $7.6 billion sale of Safeway to investors led by Cerberus Capital Management. Associated Food Stores is buying eight stores in Montana and Wyoming, Associated Wholesale Grocers is purchasing 12 stores in Texas, and Supervalu is buying two Albertsons stores in Everett and Woodinville, Washington.

GAS PRICES

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) -- The average price of regular gasoline nationwide has dropped another 25 cents a gallon in the past two weeks, to $2.47.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that prices will likely keep falling.

Lundberg says the average price of regular gasoline is the lowest it's been in more than five years.

She says lower crude oil prices are driving prices down, along with an abundant oil supply and the rising value of the U.S. dollar.

The highest-priced gas in the Lower 48 states was found in Long Island, New York, at $2.82 a gallon. The lowest was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at $2.06 a gallon.

California's lowest average was in Sacramento, at $2.58 a gallon.

The average price for midgrade gas in the U.S. is $2.71. For premium it's $2.87.

MINE EXPLOSION-INSPECTIONS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Deaths and injuries at the nation's coal mines have been declining since a West Virginia underground mining disaster killed 29 workers less than five years ago.

Coal mines are on pace this year to set a new low mark in mining deaths. So far in 2014 there have been 15 coal mine-related deaths, and with less than a month left in the year, the number could stay below the record 18 set in 2009.

Federal mine safety officials say increased enforcement efforts since the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in 2010 have improved the safety at all the nation's mines. Assistant Labor Secretary Joe Main says officials focused on making coal mines safer after the West Virginia tragedy.

MIDEAST OIL

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Saudi Arabia's oil chief is dismissing allegations that his kingdom conspired to bring down oil prices in order to harm other countries and told a summit of Arab energy leaders that he was confident the market would stabilize.

The kingdom, which is dependent on oil revenues, is able to weather lower oil prices due to large reserves built up over the years. Non-OPEC member Russia and other nations like Iraq, Iran and Venezuela need prices substantially above present levels to meet budget goals and want to drive prices up.

Saudi Arabia maintains it is opposed to cutting production because of fears its market share could erode.

The price of U.S. crude has dipped below $60 a barrel, its lowest in five years. Naimi said he was certain that the oil market would recover with the improvement of the global economy.

An OPEC meeting last month failed to agree on production cuts, mainly because of Saudi opposition to curb its own exports. OPEC controls about 40 percent of the world oil market and Saudi Arabia is the cartel's largest producer.

DISH NETWORK-FOX BLACKOUT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Dish Network subscribers were unable to watch Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network on Sunday when the channels were taken down as part of contract negotiations.

The Fox blackout is just the latest skirmish as cable and satellite TV providers fight with networks over subscription fees. Dish Network just settled disputes that led to the temporary blackout of some local CBS stations and a separate blackout related to Turner Broadcasting channels -- including Cartoon Network, CNN, Boomerang and Turner Classic Movies.

Dish has more than 14 million satellite TV customers.

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