LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters on Thursday pressed Republican Terri Lynn Land on Michigan's new abortion insurance law, saying she should come out of her "bunker" and say if she supports it.
The third-term congressman, bristling over an anti-abortion group's claim this week that he wants to make sure abortion is accessible and "cheap" for his daughters, also called on Land to denounce the statement on Right to Life of Michigan's website, which he said crossed the line.
The law took effect last week and requires residents or businesses that want insurance coverage for abortions to buy extra coverage in advance, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Land, a former secretary of state who was not involved in passing the measure, has been endorsed by Right to Life, which pushed for successful passage of the law with a citizens' initiative in the Republican-led Legislature after GOP Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation.
"The implication that women are seeking cheap abortions to me is insulting not just to me and my teenage daughters, but I think to all women in this state," Peters told reporters during a campaign event in Lansing. "These are intensely personal, intensely difficult decisions that women make with their families, with their own physicians, particularly when pregnancies go bad and you need to have medical procedures to get through an incredibly emotional experience."
Land's spokeswoman, Heather Swift, declined to outline Land's position on the law. Instead, Swift blamed Peters for voting for the federal health care law and allowing "women to lose their doctors."
"This is just another D.C. male politician trying to lecture women, and maybe Gary Peters is used to that in Washington, but here in Michigan it doesn't fly," Swift said in a statement.
Right to Life spokeswoman Pam Sherstad didn't shy away from the group's statement about Peters and his daughters. She said he has referred to his two daughters in Facebook posts about the abortion insurance law and abortion issues.
Last week, Peters linked to a story about the new law and said: "As the father of two daughters, I struggle with how to tell them that the state we love and where our family has been for generations is now unfairly discriminating against them and makes health care less affordable."
"My sense is if he is insulted or offended, perhaps he shouldn't have written those comments ... in the context of talking about making abortion more expensive," Sherstad said.
Democrats, who have condemned what they call the "rape insurance" law, are looking to portray Land as extremely conservative when it comes to women's reproductive issues. Peters was joined at a local business by the women who run it and state Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer and Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, a former Democratic legislator.
Under the law, health plans are prohibited from paying for elective abortion services unless an inexpensive supplemental policy is purchased. Some insurers are including the rider in private group plans; the law prohibits them from offering the coverage on the government-subsidized insurance market, or exchange.
"Our employees shouldn't have to have these conversations with us. We're two women. ... I wouldn't want to be a male boss that had to have a conversation with a female employee about this. It's private," said Amy Moore, a partner and creative director at Redhead Design Studio.
A statewide poll conducted in February by EPIC-MRA found that 42 percent of 600 likely voters supported the law and 46 percent opposed it. Twelve percent were undecided. The survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
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