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Michigan: Republicans subject 200 rape victims per year to fines & punishment

Hat Tip To: 

As regular readers of this site know, I make no bones about my personal politics. I'm very much a progressive Democrat, and my ideology comes out from time to time in my commentary. However, I do my best not to allow that to influence the data or how I present it.

When the enrollment numbers sucked, I agreed that they sucked and recommended that the HHS Dept. be forthcoming with the data anyway. When the Hawaii exchange was still subject to the infamous Heartbleed bug a week or so after it was publicized, I called them on it publicly. When states like Massachusetts subjected a couple hundred thousand of their citizens to a shaky, uncertain "limbo" status due to their exchange being screwed up, I didn't try to cover that over. When a solid case was made that the "3.1 million" young adult figure that the Obama administration has been touting for months may actually be only half of that, I presented the argument, the source, the reasoning and make sure to include the lower figure on The Graph. When the RAND Corp. survey claimed that there have been an additional 8.2 million Employer-Supplied Insurance policies since last fall, I declined to add them to the total due to the bold claim and lack of any collaborating evidence (I still list this figure as a footnote, but am not including it on the Graph).

The numbers are the numbers.

I say all of this because the following is sure to cause quite a bit of controversy...but a) it's related to the ACA, b) it's a serious issue and c) it's horrifying.

First, a little background: Last December, the Michigan Republican Party passed a revolting law which legally prevents any health insurance plan sold in the state from covering abortion except in cases where the woman's life is in danger. Every single Republican in the state Senate and House voted for it, along with (I'm ashamed to say) 3 "Democrats":

The law, which takes effect in March, will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest.

This means, in effect, that since March 13, any woman who needs an abortion has to either pay for it herself or has to buy a separate "abortion rider" to cover the cost, even if she becomes pregnant from being raped.

As humiliating and degrading as the "rape insurance" law is, as Michigan political blog Eclectablog notes, it actually gets far worse, because:

Now we find out that Michigan women who purchase their health insurance on their own (not part of a group insurance plan) don’t have the option to purchase the extra abortion rider on their insurance. The reason? Because the bill passed by Republicans violates an Affordable Care Act provision that prohibits insurers from offering riders to standard insurance. In other words, their law makes it impossible for women not covered by a group policy to obtain the insurance rider that Republicans are forcing them to buy if they want that coverage.

That's right. As the Detroit News story explains:

the state “opt-out” rider law clashes with provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which outlaws both separate riders and any government subsidy of abortion. Under federal law, insurers cannot offer a rider to a standard, inclusive policy. And the new state law bars insurers from including elective abortion coverage in any policy, on or off the exchange.

So, what does this mean? Well...

  1. Michigan's population is about 9.9 million people.
  2. There's about 46.4 cases of rape per 100,000 people in Michigan per year.
  3. That means about 4,600 case of rape per year.
  4. Assuming 5% of victims are male, that's 4,400 women raped in Michigan per year.
  5. Nationally, about 5% of female rape victims (around 25,000 - 32,000 women nationally) become pregnant after being raped per year.
  6. That means that around 220 Michigan women become pregnant from being raped every year.
  7. The Republican "Rape Insurance" law in Michigan prevents health insurance policies from paying for abortion (even as a separate rider), which means that...
  8. Michigan women now have to pay for their own abortion.
  9. The average cost of an abortion in Michigan is around $500.

CONCLUSION: Michigan's Republican "Rape Insurance" law means that around 220 rape victims will be PENALIZED for the "crime" of being raped every year by either:

  • a) having to pay a $500 fine and undergo a painful, emotionally revolting surgical procedure, OR
  • b) having to undergo a minimum of 9 months of cruel & unusual punishment.

Now, I can already hear the response: I'm overestimating the number of women who are raped each year, or I'm overestimating how many become pregnant from being raped. Who knows, maybe I have. Perhaps it's only 200 women per year, or 150. Wow, that's so much better; I know I'll sleep better at night knowing that "only" a hundred or so women will be victimized a second time each year because they made the mistake of being born with a vagina.

Perhaps the attack will be about the "nature" of the rapes in question; were they legitimate?

Did the victim fight back? Was she drinking, or dressed provoctively?

And besides, gee whilikers, some women might even appreciate being given a gift from God.

I'm sure the women (and decent men) of Michigan will find those arguments ever so compelling.