by Scott McClallen
The Michigan Senate voted along party lines to prohibit some employers from firing an employee for having an abortion.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, said Senate Bill 147 aims to close a “loophole” in the Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act.
The bill aims to provide protection from discrimination and retribution for pregnancy, childbirth, the termination of a pregnancy, or related medical conditions. Opponents, however, say the bill would force businesses pay for abortions for workers and their families.
“It is necessary that this loophole is closed so that employers who are hostile to abortion believe they need to insert themselves in people’s reproductive health care decisions do not violate the state Constution,” Geiss said on Thursday. “The people of Michigan spoke loudly and clearly with its passage of prop 3.”
Geiss said Proposal 3, which voters passed in November, enshrines a fundamental right to reproductive freedom into the state Constitution as the reason to enact this law.
In a committee hearing on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan Legislative Director Merissa Kovach backed the bill.
“This carve-out is wrong, it’s mean-spirited, it’s intrusive,” she said.
Sen. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, pushed a failed amendment to affirm that abortion shouldn’t be allowed after a baby has reached viability and could survive outside the womb.
Sen. Joe Bellino, R-Monroe, said the passage of Proposal 3 is being used to justify “extreme policy changes that were never part of the statewide conversation surrounding this ballot measure.”
Bellino added: “In recent weeks, we have consistently been told that abortion is no one else’s businesses. Yet now, others will be forced to pay for that same abortion. That is none of their business.”
The Michigan Catholic Conference said the bill, if signed into law, would force employers without self-insured health plans to pay for abortions, violating their constitutional rights to free exercise of religion.
“Yet no one should be forced to support another person’s choice to have an elective abortion – financially or otherwise,” policy advocate Rebecca Mastee said on Wednesday in a committee hearing. “This policy will be detrimental for families when employers cease offering benefits for pregnancy and maternity altogether.”
The bill moves to the Democrat-dominated House.
– – –
Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Erika Geiss” by State Senator Erika Geiss.