By Stephen C. Webster on December 13, 2013

A female state senator in Michigan shamed her Republican colleagues this week over a new law that requires women to purchase what she called "rape insurance" by graphically retelling her own experience with sexual assault.

Proponents of the Michigan law insist that it is designed to provide women with special insurance that pays for abortions. Critics, like State Senator Gretchen Whitmer, have taken to calling it "rape insurance" due to the effect it would have on women who become pregnant as a result of a sexual assault.

"The fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive," she told fellow lawmakers on Wednesday. "And for those of you who want to act aghast that I use a term like rape insurance to describe the proposal here before us, you should be even more offended that it's an absolutely accurate description of what this proposal requires. This tells women that were raped and become pregnant that they should have thought ahead and bought special insurance for it."

The senator then described in excruciating detail how she was sexually assaulted over 20 years ago, and how she's not spoken about it much since then. "If this were law then and I had become pregnant, I would not be able to have coverage because of this," she said. "How extreme does this measure need to be?"

Whitmer then left the chamber and immediately called her father so he could hear it first from her instead of on the news.

"It was very difficult but I'm glad I did that," she told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Thursday. "The response from women across the state, and across the country frankly, has been amazing."

Despite her passionate argument against the proposal, Republicans passed it Thursday on a party-line vote. Identical measures had previously failed twice before thanks to vetoes, but it was reintroduced again this year through a rarely-used "citizen's initiative" legislative process that bypasses the governor's desk.

Michigan's new requirement that abortion be covered through separate specialty insurance is set to take effect in March. Whitmer said she and fellow Democrats would do everything they can to ensure that it gets repealed.

This video is from "The Rachel Maddow Show," aired Thursday, Dec. 13, 2013.

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Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.

On November 20 every year for the last fifteen years, transgender people gather for vigil ceremonies to acknowledge...

Yesterday the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would approve construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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