by Steven Ertelt
April 27, 2006
Lansing, MI (LifeNews.com) — The Michigan state House on Wednesday approved a bill 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 HMOs opt out of providing coverage for any service or benefit that conflicts with the companies moral or religious beliefs.
The House approved the bill on a 68-38 vote and it now heads to the Senate for consideration. Eleven Democrats joined most Republicans in backing the legislation.
"Simply put, if it’s not in the contract, you don’t have to cover it," said Rep. Scott Hummel, a Republican who sponsored the measure, told the Lansing State Journal.
Pro-abortion groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood opposed the measure saying it would weaken women’s rights to abortion or contraception.
But pro-life organizations, including Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference, back the proposal. The bill would help specialized Catholic insurance plans or other agencies if their objections are reflected in their mission statement or articles of incorporation.
Backers 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 measure received a favorable vote from the House Insurance Committee, which approved it on a party-line 9-6 vote.
The insurance bill is in two parts and is HB 4745 and HB 4746.