by Steven Ertelt
March 23, 2006
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — A Michigan state House panel approved legislation Thursday that would provide a conscience clause for insurance companies. The measure would help companies that don’t want to cover abortions or the morning after pill, for example, from being forced to do so.
The legislation helps insurance providers and HMO opt out of providing coverage for any service or benefit that conflicts with the companies moral or religious beliefs.
Sponsored by Rep. Scott Hummel, a Republican, the bill would help specialized Catholic insurance plans or other agencies if their objections are reflected in their mission statement or articles of incorporation.
The measure received a favorable vote from the House Insurance Committee, which approved it on a party-line 9-6 vote and it now heads to the full House. Republicans backed the bill while Democrats voted against it.
Abortion advocates oppose the bill and claim it will reduce health benefits for consumers and limit women’s access to the morning after pill.
But the measure enjoys the support of the Michigan Catholic Conference and Right to Life of Michigan.
Backer of the bill say it is important for abortion and the Plan B drugs, which can sometimes cause an abortion, but will be increasingly important as bioethics issues like human cloning and embryonic stem cell research take shape.
"This is a forward-thinking piece of legislation," said Ed Rivet, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan, told the Associated Press. "If an insurer does not want to cover something — consistent with previously established values or mission statements — that should be protected."
The insurance bill is in two parts and is HB 4745 and HB 4746.