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‘Rape Insurance Law,’ Rape Kit Stories Combine in Chilling Message: Editor’s Notebook

Michigan State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer nailed it when she said, “If that’s not a direct attack on women and our health ... I don’t know what is.”

Protestors gathered outside the Michigan Capitol after the so-called "Rape Insurance Bill" was passed. (Photo: Getty Images)
Protestors gathered outside the Michigan Capitol after the so-called "Rape Insurance Bill" was passed. (Photo: Getty Images)

(The following is an op-ed written by Michigan Patch Editor Beth Dalbey)

A couple of stories posted within hours of one another last week were related only to the extent that they combined disturbingly in the messages they sent about how far we’ve really come as women.

One story dealt with DNA tests conducted on 11,000 unprocessed rape cases found abandoned in a Detroit warehouse in 2009, some of them dating back to the 1970s. About 1,600 have been processed so far, leading to the capture of more than 100 offenders considered “serial rapists” who have committed similar crimes in 23 states.

This isn’t just happening in Michigan, where – thankfully – proposed legislation would set deadlines and guidelines for the timely testing of sexual assault kits. Nationwide, there about 400,000 unprocessed rape kits.

What was the thinking of police who let the unprocessed sexual assault kits accumulate? 

We may never know that for sure, but even under the most generous of possible explanations, it doesn’t speak well for how serious some in law enforcement believe rape, for the most part a crime against women, to be.

Neither does Michigan’s so-called “Rape Insurance Law” that took effect last week, which Patch also wrote about. (It was passed by the same Republican-controlled legislature that will now consider laws requiring timely processing of rape kits.)

It basically requires women to “anticipate” needing abortion services by purchasing insurance riders on their health insurance, and it applies even in usually sacrosanct exceptions of rape or incest?

That a woman would have to anticipate that she might be raped and become pregnant on the way across campus, for example, prompted a Michigan state senator to disclose, after 20 years, that she had been raped as a college student.

Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, didn’t become pregnant as a result of the attack, but she said she “can’t even begin to imagine now having to think about the same thing happening to my own daughters" in the current political climate surrounding abortion in Michigan.

You'd think someone got it in their illogical head this would cause a drop in abortions, right? 

Wrong.

Right to Life Michigan says the point of the law, which it pushed, isn’t to reduce abortions – which have been steadily declining in the state in past decades. It’s about shifting costs, even though fewer than 3 percent of the abortions in Michigan in 2012 were paid for with insurance.

That the impetus for the law wasn't reducing elective abortions to "save innocent life" – or even making any meaningful difference in how the procedures are paid for – makes the unintended consequences impossible to see as anything short of a war on women for the sake of the war.

One of the cruelest of the battles Michigan women are now being asked to fight is for access to medically necessary procedures like D&Cs, which might not be covered under the new law – meaning tens of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs for a procedure a woman's doctor said she needed.

Whitmer nailed it.

“If that’s not a direct attack on women and our health to say insurance can’t cover this type of critically important reproductive care,” she said, “I don’t know what is.”

It’s easy – but foolish – to look at the issues in both of these stories as simply Michigan problems. Back-door approaches are being taken all across America by politicians who presume they are better arbiters of women’s health-care decisions than are the women and the doctors they trust.

Regardless of where you’re sitting, how confident are you that women’s reproductive rights are safe, at least in cases rape or incest? Or that rape kits that could prove the crimes against them wouldn't languish forgotten in a pile with thousands of others?


Mr Rogers March 27, 2014 at 04:19 AM
I don't know about God and all that stuff. If Jesus is supposed to be in charge of everything that happens, it appears that he takes a lot of vacations or falls asleep at the switch a lot. Still, I think abortion is not something to be taken lightly. Life is a precious thing, and as far as we know, only happens here on this planet. They say that there are probably thousands upon thousnds of places in the universe where intelligent life eixists, but the argument against that is we haven't found it yet. Not even in one place. It seems appropriate that at some point the fetus should have some right to exist. I think killing it for the sake of convenience is a bad thing, and may result in some pretty bad karma. If I was a woman, I think it would bother me a lot if I had an abortion. I don't look at it as a blob of protoplasm. That's my take on it.
Keith Jenkins March 27, 2014 at 08:05 AM
Thanks all for your comments. I need to move on. I trust some of you have at least paused to consider the truth of what I have shared. Some of you seem come back with the same respones regardless of what is said. That is ok, there is a season for you but perhaps not now.
niteman March 27, 2014 at 01:48 PM
T as in Troof! - Thanks but the credit for that saying goes to The Flaming Lips lyrics in ODE TO C.C. (ironically on their "Oh My Gawd" LP)... This man came up to me just the other day He asked me if I'd been born again I told him I didn't think I had That I had been rejected But I think hell's got all the good bands anyway... Keith Jenkins - Take care and good wishes to you in life. However, the truth you have shared is just that: YOUR TRUTH. Not everyone's. Same to all who I differ with on here, I wish you well and no harm despite our differences. After all, didn't some bearded hippie that may or may not have existed preach that same ideology about 2014 years ago (or so it is told)?
Keith Jenkins March 27, 2014 at 02:36 PM
Niteman, Since you attempted to quote Jesus I guess I can't resist one final thought. He did have a lot to say about truth but I like these best of all: "You shall know the truth and the Truth will set you free"... he was talking about himself. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by me" john 14:6. Sorry it doesn't sound like a relative truth but real truth by definition is narrow. Best wishes.
Mr Rogers March 27, 2014 at 05:11 PM
Lots of ranting and raving and opposing opinions expressed, but in the final analysis, nobody's mind was changed about anything, so I guess you could say it was just a big waste of time. In the end, the courts have all the power, and they make the rules that we all must live under, weather we agree with them or not. As an interesting sidenote, concerning the Roe v. Wade decision, Jane Roe (aka Norma L. McCorvey) did carry her baby to full term, since the case was still being litigated, and she has since changed her views about abortion, and is now pro-life, and has been since 1995 (YCLIU). She says she felt like she was "used" by two overzealous pro-choice attorneys trying to make a name for themselves. Just sayin'. That is all. Over and out.

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