Kansas state Rep compares getting pregnant from rape to getting a flat tire.

Banning insurance coverage of abortion–in the new state exchanges as well as the private market–has been a favorite anti-choice tactic ever since health care reform. A couple weeks ago, Kansas became the latest state to pass a bill prohibiting all private insurance companies in the state from covering abortion care, except when the woman’s life is at risk.

Women will be free to buy separate riders if they anticipate needing an abortion in the future because, obviously, just like cancer and car accidents, an unintended pregnancy is something that they should be able to see coming. There was some disagreement in the Kansas House, however, as to whether that’s a reasonable expectation. The McPherson Sentinet reports:

And Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican who supports abortion rights, questioned whether women would buy abortion-only policies long before they have crisis or unwanted pregnancies or are rape victims.

During the House’s debate, Rep. Pete DeGraaf, a Mulvane Republican who supports the bill, told her: “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?”

Bollier asked him, “And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with a pregnancy?”

DeGraaf drew groans of protest from some House members when he responded, “I have spare tire on my car.”

“I also have life insurance,” he added. “I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”

Life: always throwing us curve-balls. Like rape and flat tires. The callousness of comparing getting pregnant from rape to blowing out a tire is, of course, jaw-dropping–and perhaps even rivals Sharron Angle’s advice to pregnant rape victims to accept that “God has a plan” and make “a lemon situation into lemonade.”

But DeGraaf’s comments also reveals just how absurd and disingenuous anti-choice opposition to insurance coverage for abortion is. “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?” Why, yes, indeed! And one way that we generally “plan ahead” for unexpected problems that may or may not befall us is by doing things like, oh I dunno, buying health insurance plans. Plans that are hopefully general and comprehensive enough that we do not have to predict whether we’re ultimately going to need medical care for a heart attack, or a brain tumor, or pneumonia, or a fetal abnormality, or an unintended pregnancy–or any number of tragedies that I, for one, tend to alternately believe will never happen to me or else will surely strike at any moment.

The entire point of health insurance is to protect us against the unexpected. And an unintended pregnancy–whether caused by rape or birth control failure or human error–is the very definition of the unexpected. That’s why most private insurance plans currently cover abortion. Taking away that coverage and then urging women to “plan ahead” by buying a separate abortion rider amounts to imposing a financial penalty for the crime of being able to get pregnant.

That’s straight-up discrimination against people with uteri–which, unlike the occasional flat tire, we should not have to put up with.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/ak47/ a


    I feel damn lucky to have had my unintended pregnancy before any laws like this stood a chance of reaching me..and for being a New York resident..

    I’m just speechless right now.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kleenexmcadams/ Jennie

    The thing is, even people who can and do plan ahead for possible abortion needs, this will make it a lot harder. Because now, if they want the abortion rider they have to tell their employer “Hey, I might need an abortion sometime. Let me fill out one of those forms that gets me insurance for those.” If their employer is anti-choice, they may be harassed. Some employers might even find a way to “lose the paperwork” so that they never have coverage in the first place. Or, if they know their employer is anti-choice, they may be too afraid of losing their job or being outed as pro-choice in an anti-choice environment. In which case, they may not ask for the rider at all.

    And if employers can do this, how long before “conscience clauses” enter into the equation. If doctors and pharmacists can refuse reproductive care when it’s on the patient’s dime, what’s to stop employers from saying “Hey, I’m against abortion so my business shouldn’t have to cover this rider.” Then, anybody working for those employers would just be shit out of luck.

    This is just making me think all kinds of bad things.

  • http://feministing.com/members/thundermaker/ Thunder Maker

    Women of all parties, any religion need to pay attention to this type of discourse. I believe many women in America are under the impression that gender equality is here and undeniable. It is not. This is how women’s rights will lose ground. It starts with abortion riders. We have to be vigilant to preserve what the women before us have worked so hard for. We have to be vocal on issues of gender inequality. Thank you Feministing.

  • http://feministing.com/members/chuval/ Chloe Huval

    This is crazy, a rape victim has no control over the rapist! And, unlike a flat tire it isn’t just an “uh oh” experience that can be quickly fixed and the cause of a flat tire is probably not a decision made by another human being! To compare rape to a flat tire (an object) is to belittle the seriousness of it and, in my opinion, to make a joke out of it. Also, in response to Sharon Angle’s advice, “accepting” rape wont solve anything! And, to also tell a rape victim that it is just part of Gods plan is saying that because she believes in a supernatural intelligence, rape is okay! And it is not something you can just make lemonade out of. Rape is a serious issue. And pregnancy in general is serious and important for many, many reasons!

  • http://feministing.com/members/cjanton/ CJ Anton

    It is quite astonishing to watch conservative men weave and dodge when their behavior belies their stated commitment to individual rights and freedom from government intrusion. In the resulting confusion they make their underlying misogyny clear as crystal.

  • http://feministing.com/members/veritykhat/ Verity Khat

    A flat tire? Really? No, getting pregnant from rape is more like being stabbed with the same knife that someone just used to slash all four of your tires…which NO ONE PLANS FOR.

    What an asshole.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ritacat76/ Rita

    Yuck! Rapeside Assistance, anyone!? What’s next; rape as a pre-existing condition? Grrrr!

  • http://feministing.com/members/ruthi1729/ Ruthi

    CNNOpinion published an oped on this:


    While I do agree with many of the writer’s points, there’s something about the column that grates me. I wonder if this is just me? His thesis seems to be “you women voters should care more about abortion politics” which annoys me because I feel it ignores the people who HAVE been fighting for abortion rights and telling women voters what they *should* care about is patronizing.