Right-to-life petition-driven bill subverts democracy

Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013
Right-to-life petition-driven bill subverts democracy story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A petition-driven bill by right-to-life to prohibit insurance companies from including abortion coverage as standard in what they sell is now in the hands of the Michigan legislature.
Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's a matter best left to voters, not to legislators--who themselves also signed the petition.


Let's pretend for a moment that you and I and a group of like-minded souls have long wanted to ban football from high schools because the sport is a source of injury that many players will be suffering from in one way or another for years to come.

We know that the whole state won't agree with us. So we convince four percent of Michigan voters to sign our petition that insurers can no longer routinely cover the cost of treating football injures.

And that the Michigan High School Athletic Association ought not be in the business of providing insurance anyway.

We submit it to our legislature, where we have friends, they act on it, and it becomes law. Just like that.

Kids who can't afford insurance can't play. And we're on our way to banning the sport altogether.

Unlikely,  illogical, and undemocratic to be sure; but it's analogous to what the right-to-life petition does.

It would protect women from pregnancy from rape by forcing them to purchase an optional rider on their insurance policy. It doesn't even require insurance companies to offer such a thing.

And the only thing standing between the petition and it becoming state law is our Republican-led legislature—most of whom, by the way, already signed that petition.

It's a stacked deck.

It was also signed by about 300,000 registered voters. Four percent of the total. That's all.

Four percent! This is the way we run our democracy? Where we allow the will of a handful to dictate to the rest?

The last time I looked, on the issue of abortion, Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land.

It allows women to maintain control over their bodies. It's up to them to determine whether they will carry a pregnancy full term.

My own view is that life is the greatest choice. But a choice it remains.

And I've heard the refrain too many times: how so terribly liberal it is for that woman to have an abortion.

And on the other side: how so terribly liberal, and what a drain on the economy, for that woman to collect public assistance and food stamps to raise that child of hers.

Gov. Snyder says he thinks the bill is inappropriate, but that its not his call.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate say they're undecided.

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer says forcing women to buy rape insurance is the most misogynistic proposal she's ever seen.

The only right thing for this government to do now is allow the matter to go to a state-wide vote next November.

It would stop this "friends-in-high-places" approach to lawmaking, and let democracy work by letting the people—all of the people—decide.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on October 09, 2015 17:12 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Cheaper oil and less demand for autos and machinery weighed on wholesalers in August, as their inventories edged up just slightly while sales dropped.

The Commerce Department said today that wholesale stockpiles rose 0.1 percent, and sales fell 1 percent. Sales have slid 4.7 percent over the past 12 months. Inventories have increased 4.1 percent.

Falling oil prices account for much of the declining sales.

Oil inventories -- which are measured in dollars -- plummeted 4.6 percent in August and 36.6 percent over the past 12 months. Sales of autos and machinery also slipped. But rising inventories for equipment, pharmaceuticals and chemicals suggest that wholesalers still see ongoing demand heading into end of the year.

Wholesale inventories are at a seasonally adjusted $583.9 billion, 4.1 percent above a year ago.

Sales weakened as the broader economy began to cool in August, hampered in large part by the risks of a worldwide deceleration in economic activity.


NEW YORK (AP) -- A voting member of the Federal Reserve's policy committee says that he still thinks an interest-rate increase will be appropriate by year's end. But he acknowledges that the outlook for the economy appears cloudier than it did a few weeks ago.

Dennis Lockhart, president of the Fed's Atlanta regional bank, noted that the most recent economic figures have sent mixed signals, with higher risks than he had earlier forecast. Notably, the government said last week that employers cut back sharply on hiring in September and added fewer jobs in July and August than previously thought.

Lockhart said he will closely review consumer activity before deciding how to vote on whether to raise rates at one of the Fed's two final meetings of 2015.

For now, he said, he thinks the economy's progress remains "satisfactory."

Lockhart made his remarks to the annual meeting of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in New York.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that a Fed rate hike remains likely this year but that a final decision will depend on how the economy performs.

In an interview with CNBC, William Dudley says he expects solid U.S. economic growth to offset weakness overseas, which is hurting U.S. exports. But he says the economy will need to further improve for the Fed to raise rates from record lows.

The Fed's final two meetings of 2015 will be later this month and in December. Though Dudley says a rate hike could theoretically occur at any meeting, his comments seemed to favor December over October.

Some economists still think the Fed will delay a hike until 2016 because of pressures from overseas and excessively low inflation.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Wal-Mart has named Brett Biggs, an executive in its international division, as its next chief financial officer.

Biggs will take over on Dec. 31, though Charles Holley, who is retiring, will remain with Wal-Mart for a month to help with the transition.

Biggs has been CFO and executive vice president of Wal-Mart's international business since 2014. He has played a number of roles at Wal-Mart since joining the company in 2000.

Holley has been CFO for nearly five years and has been with the company for more than two decades.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, is trying to boost sales. It has increased spending on its online operations to compete with Amazon.com and other online retailers, and it is trying to improve its selection and customer service at stores.

Washington Times