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.

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Last Update on February 27, 2015 18:54 GMT

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The Commerce Department said Friday that the economy as measured by the gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the October-December quarter, less than the 2.6 percent first estimated last month. It marked a major slowdown from the third quarter, which had been the strongest growth in 11 years.

Economists remain optimistic that the slowdown will be only temporary. In fact, many forecast that growth will accelerate to above 3 percent in 2015, which would give the country the strongest economic growth in a decade.

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The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment slid to 95.4 in February from an 11-year high of 98.1 in January.

Earlier this week, the Conference Board, a business research group, said that its consumer confidence index fell a bit this month but remained at the highest levels since before the Great Recession began in late 2007.

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The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index increased 1.7 percent to 104.2 last month. December's figure was also revised higher to show a decline of only 1.5 percent, up from a previous drop of 3.7 percent.

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The maker of Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and SEAT brand cars said Friday that it increased its profit margins during the year and proposed to increase its dividend to shareholders.

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Although the Obama administration wants embassies reopened by April's summit of North and South American leaders, the Cubans hope first to be removed from a U.S. terrorism blacklist.

Their status on that list prevents them banking and doing other basic business in the U.S. that they would need for their embassy here.

Washington is reviewing if its designation of Cuba as a terrorist state is outdated. It hasn't made a decision.

The one-day talks started Friday morning at the State Department. Roberta Jacobson, the department's senior Latin America diplomat, led the U.S. Across the table sat Josefina Vidal, Cuba's top diplomat for the United States.

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