An Open Letter to the Michigan Legislature

Without apology, this is directed to the eighty-nine of members of the Michigan Legislature who, on December 11th, voted in favor of a bill that would require women to purchase a separate insurance rider in order to have medical care coverage in the event that a pregnancy needed to be terminated – for pretty much any reason, including pregnancy resulting from rape or incest (which is still rape).

A few important facts: First, I’m a guy, and since the people making general pronouncements about women’s health and body issues that should really be listened to are women, I hope they will grant me a small voice in this matter. Second, I am the father of a daughter, the brother of a sister, the son of a mother, and the husband of a wife. I am a Christian, and I am also a minister, specifically a priest. I am a citizen and a voter.  I absolutely believe in the sanctity of life, but believe in the constitutional right of a woman to make decisions about her own body.  But, the purpose of this letter is not to enter into that specific debate.  In my tradition of Christianity we have people at all points of the spectrum on this matter.  It simply seems honest to be transparent about some of my background.

As a part of my tradition we take some vows. Remember with me that vows are unconditional. They do not say, “If you do this, I will do that.” Vows are “I will do this regardless of what you do” declarations. One of them is a vow to “respect the dignity of every human being.” Not those who look like me, or think like me, or have the same ethnic heritage, or the same religious beliefs, or the same gender or orientation, or even live in the same country as I do. This vow is not conditional, and it is hard, and it sets a high standard!

This legislation fails to meet that standard in an incalculable number of ways. It penalizes over fifty percent of the population for being born female – something they had no control over. It seems to me, a non-psychologist, that it imposes the trauma of having to consider the likelihood of being raped, and having to pay for the opportunity to be a victim in advance. That seems to me to be one of the clearest examples of psychological abuse imaginable.

Here’s a question for you: Instead of the bill you passed, did you consider a law that requires every male to have to purchase an “impregnation rider” to their insurance?  Under current economic conditions it would make more sense. Men get paid more for the same work, so they can better afford the cost of the rider. Men don’t have to take time off work to give birth, so the chances of missing a premium payment would be greatly reduced providing the insurance companies a more stable revenue stream. There is another option as well. Since the bill speaks to the matter of abortion, the underlying condition would be pregnancy, right? Further, since pregnancy is a solely female condition, we are talking about laws which invade women’s sovereignty, right? So did you consider balancing this law with quid pro quo legislation that requires each male to have a vasectomy prior to puberty and then buy a rider in case he wants to have that reversed?

Please do not mistake the pervious paragraph for sarcasm. I am not being sarcastic at all. I am also not naive. It didn’t happen, and it is not going to happen because, despite the fact that GM named the first female CEO of any major automotive manufacturer (yeah, GM!), the continuing patriarchy would laugh it out of the room, if it could even fathom such a thing.

In the Christian tradition our Holy Writings (the Bible) tell of a situation where a woman is brought before a council of men with the intention of stoning her for adultery. The question is, “Where was the guy?” since I am certain that adultery back then, as now, was a two part invention. Anyway, when Jesus is asked for an opinion on this, he indicates that the one without sin should case the first stone. One by one they all left.

It appears that I have underestimated many in the Michigan state legislature, because on Wednesday, December 11th, there were 89 battering, destructive, lethal stones hurled at every woman in this state. Not only did I not know of your sinless state, but I failed to recognize that you possessed the ability to look into the lives and hearts of Michigan’s women and condemn them.  The only person I know that possessed that ability did not condemn the woman about to be stoned, but you condemn every woman in this state. And, while you were at it, you humiliated the women who were part of your own legislative community, compelling them recount the greatest horrors of their lives – only to have you dismiss the truth in favor of your own moral messianic complex.

The “yea voters” on this matter are, from every way I come at this, either victims of being bullied by 4% of the voting population (which when you realize it should be prompt changes to in this state to protect people before they become victims), or they are myopic messiahs anointed to impose their godly will on populace. Either way, it is a sad day for Michigan. I hope you quickly realize this terrible mistake and rescind this act before the 90 days pass that would enact this legislation.  Failing that, I hope the courts quickly strike it down for the undue burdens in imposes.

The Very Reverend Dr. S. Scott Hunter