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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.

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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 September 19, 2014 17:24 GMT

ALIBABA-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Alibaba's stock is surging as the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse begins its first day trading as a public company.

The stock opened at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange this morning, up 36 percent from the initial $68 per share price set Thursday evening.

At that price the company would be worth $228.5 billion, more than companies such as Amazon, Ebay and even Facebook.

On Thursday, Alibaba and the investment bankers arranging the IPO settled on a price of $68 per share. The company and its early investors raised $21.8 billion in the offering, which valued Alibaba at $168 billion in one of the world's biggest ever initial public offerings.

But after a two-hour trading delay due to strong demand, it opened much higher than that price. If the stock closes at $92.70, the IPO will have raised close to $30 billion.

LEADING INDICATORS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health rose in August but at a much slower pace than in July.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose 0.2 percent in August, the seventh straight increase. But that was much slower than the revised 1.1 percent gain in July.

Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein says even with the slowdown in August, the index shows the economy is still gaining traction.

STATE UNEMPLOYMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of U.S. states in August, even as employers in two-thirds of the states added jobs.

The Labor Department says unemployment increased in 24 states, fell in 15 and was unchanged in 11. Hiring picked up in 35 states, while it fell in 15.

Unemployment rates can rise even when hiring increases if more people start looking for work and don't immediately find jobs. The figures suggest hiring was broad-based across most regions of the country last month, even as nationwide job gains in August were the weakest this year.

Georgia reported the nation's highest unemployment rate, at 8.1 percent, followed by Mississippi at 7.9 percent. That's the first time Georgia has had the highest rate since the Great Recession ended.

BRITAIN-SCOTLAND-ECONOMY

LONDON (AP) -- Businesses and investors have reacted with relief to Scotland's decision to reject independence from the United Kingdom.

The No campaign won 55 percent of the votes cast in Thursday's referendum. The 10-point victory margin was wider than expected -- most opinion polls on the eve of the vote showed a narrower 4-point victory.

British stocks responded positively to the news Friday, with the FTSE 100 index up 0.3 percent. Royal Bank of Scotland shares were up, and the bank, which is majority-owned by the U.K. government, said it was "business as usual" for its customers.

Some had warned that if Scotland left, uncertainty over the future value of the British pound and government debt would have rattled the U.K economy.

In the currency markets, the pound was solid too, rising to a two-year high against the euro.

EXXON-RUSSIA DRILLING

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Exxon Mobil says it will stop drilling an exploratory well in Russia's Kara Sea in compliance with U.S. sanctions against Russia over Russia's involvement in the Ukraine.

Exxon planned to drill the well between August and October. The latest round of sanctions called for the removal of U.S. workers on projects in the Russian Arctic by Sept. 26.

Exxon says it has received a license from the U.S. Treasury Department to wind down operations, but it is unclear whether the license will allow Exxon to stop drilling on the schedule it had already laid out. Exxon could not be immediately reached for comment.

PABST BREWING-SALE

NEW YORK (AP) -- The maker of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is being sold to Russian company Oasis Beverages for an undisclosed sum.

In addition to its namesake beer, Pabst Brewing Co. makes Colt 45, Old Milwaukee and Schlitz. Pabst was acquired in 2010 by C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., which is known for investing in food brands.

Pabst Brewing, now based in Los Angeles, traces its roots back to 1844 in Milwaukee. Since purchasing it in 2010, Metropoulos has enlisted comedian Will Ferrell to market the company's beers. Pabst Blue Ribbon has also grown in popularity in part for its blue-collar appeal and cheap price.

Oasis is buying Pabst with TSG, an investment firm known for its work with consumer products companies. TSG Consumer Partners will take a minority stake in Pabst.

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