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 November 27, 2015 18:34 GMT


CHICAGO (AP) -- A protest march has begun in Chicago's Magnificent Mile shopping district, with the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the middle of a crowd that's shouting, "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!"

Several hundred demonstrators have gathered in the drizzling rain, many with umbrellas and plastic-wrapped signs.

They're protesting the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer last year. The recent release of a video showing the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald has set off days of largely peaceful protests.

Protesters sought high visibility by taking the demonstrations to the city's main shopping area on what's traditionally one of the year's biggest shopping days.

An association representing hundreds of high-end retailers, hotels and restaurants in the district says it's confident authorities will maintain order for thousands of Black Friday shoppers. The Magnificent Mile Association represents 780 businesses on Chicago's North Michigan Avenue.


UNDATED (AP) -- "Black Friday" may no longer represent an early start on holiday shopping. For some, it may be too late.

One woman in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, says her $200 budget today was the same as last year, but that it didn't buy as much because the best bargains were on Thanksgiving night.

Ashley Walton says the day for bargains is now "Black Thursday." She says she didn't go shopping on Thanksgiving because she was in what she calls a "turkey coma."

A Kmart shopper in Denver this morning had nearly the entire store to herself, and found it "sad." Susan Montoya said it's "no challenge" when no one else is shopping. She says people must have gone out yesterday or be shopping online.

Early numbers aren't out yet on how many shoppers headed to stores on Thanksgiving Day. The National Retail Federation expected about 30 million to shop on Thanksgiving, and 99.7 million on Black Friday.


BERLIN (AP) -- A closely-watched survey shows German consumers are losing confidence amid growing concerns of an economic slump.

The GfK research group said Friday its forward-looking consumer climate index dropped for the fourth month in a row to 9.3 points in December, from 9.4 in November.

GfK says consumers' willingness to buy rose, but that was offset by drops in both their income and economic expectations, partially linked to the growing number of asylum seekers pouring into the country.

Germany is set to receive more than 1 million refugees and other migrants this year and some 40 percent of consumers surveyed told GfK they believed unemployment would soon rise, most of them saying the newcomers would hurt the labor market.

GfK's monthly survey is based on some 2,000 consumer interviews.


BRUSSELS (AP) -- Greece and its creditors are close to sealing a deal on conditions that Athens must respect to obtain the next slice of rescue money.

The country has already received this week approval for a 2 billion euro loan, and is negotiating on more economic measures needed to get another 1 billion euros.

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Friday the sides have "agreed broadly the second set of milestones."

She said that when the details are ironed out "this of course would unlock the disbursement of the final one billion euros still available."

That would also allow for an important review of Greece's handling of its austerity program, which is required to secure international credit.

Andreeva said the implementation of pension reforms "is a key part of the first review."


GENEVA (AP) -- A Swiss court has convicted in absentia a former employee with international bank HSBC for economic espionage and sentenced him to five years in prison.

Herve Falciani -- seen by some as a crucial whistleblower -- had refused to travel from his native France to appear before the Swiss Federal Tribunal in Bellinzona in proceedings that began in October.

France does not extradite its own citizens and Falciani appears unlikely to serve the sentence.

Falciani was on trial for leaking bank data that led to a worldwide wave of tax evasion probes against prominent clients in France and elsewhere.

He was charged with illegally obtaining data, economic espionage, breach of business confidentiality and breach of bank secrecy while working at a Swiss HSBC subsidiary between 2006 and 2008.


Glitch causes bank customers to see billions in charges

HONOLULU (AP) -- A technical glitch meant some First Hawaiian Bank customers logged on to their accounts to find that they appeared to be billions, or sometimes more than a trillion dollars in the red.

KHON-TV reports that bank officials say the glitch was visible to customers who logged on to their accounts during a 20-minute window Wednesday. They say no actual customer information or balances were affected by the issue.

Customers who logged in at that time saw outstanding balances of at least $710 billion.

Kauai resident George White says when he saw the error all he could think was, "Well, my wife is going to kill me."

First Hawaii Bank said in a statement that the issue was resolved quickly and that the bank apologized to customers who were inconvenienced.

Washington Times