The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Michigan's "Rape Insurance Law" is unethical

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/12/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,578 times Debate No: 42276
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)





Michigan's "Rape Insurance Law" is unethical.


R1: Acceptance only
R2: Core cases only (no rebuttals)
R3: Rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals (no new responses)


The Law:


In advance to my opponent, and to the inane legislators of Michigan who made this debate possible by passing into law this affront to morality.


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank rross for accepting this debate and I apologize for the time it took me to reply. As per the rules I shall be presenting my case preceded by some framework analysis and definitions, as well as a brief synopsis of the law itself.


Unethical - not conforming to a high moral standard; morally unacceptable [1]
Moral - conforming to a standard of right behavior [2]

The best way to evaluate this round is through an analysis of justice, using this as our standard of right behavior. Justice is defined as "fairness or reasonableness, especially in the way people are treated or decisions are made" according to Encarta. Prefer this weighing mechanism for two reasons:

1. A government that does not act, on balance, justly, is not legitimate. Tyranny is, by it's nature, unfairness and unreasonableness in government decision-making.
2. Fairness (and trust) is a integral component of public and governmental ethics. [3]

It is also important to note that this is NOT a topic about abortion. The resolution is posing a question about insuring abortions, not about the practice of abortion itself. Therefore, this debate should be focused only on the law and its immediate effects, nothing else. BOP is shared too--Con should show the law to be ethical as I endeavor to illustrate the opposite.


Just to give voters a brief insight into the law, the law "will ban all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion unless the woman's life is in danger. The law...will force women and employers to purchase a separate abortion rider if they would like the procedure covered, even in cases of rape and incest." [4]

A full text of the law can be found at the link I provided in R1.


Contention One: Subversion of normal democratic processes

In Michigan, "citizen's initiatives," or laws introduced by petition, cannot be vetoed by the Governor. While this sounds nice in the abstract--giving voters a voice--only 4% of the state's voting populace signed the petition. Polling shows that more voters oppose the measure than support it [5]. Moreover, the petition was often misrepresented as an attack on Obamacare, when it is, in fact, applicable to all insurers, not just insurance arising from the ACA's exchanges. [5]

In this way, a small group of anti-abortion activists used misinformation to get a small fragment of the population to pass a bill more voters don't like, bypassing normal legal processes like the veto do so. This strikes me as incredibly undemocratic, and more so the minority imposing its beliefs on the majority.

Contention Two: Nonexistent insurance

Insurers don't have "abortion insurance" riders that can be bought separately in the manner prescribed by Michigan law. [6] Moreover, if you refer to Section 5 of the law itself, the law doesn't require insurers to offer such riders. Therefore, this law is putting women in an impossible situation:

1. If you want to get coverage for your abortion, you must buy the rider
2. No riders exist
3. Therefore, you cannot get coverage for your abortion

The Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot impose undue impediments on obtaining an abortion--for example, they cannot make it legal, but then proceed to make it impossible to attain. It must be legal and accessible both from a de jure and de facto standpoint. It seems that this law violates that doctrine. (See: Planned Parenthood v. Casey [7])

Furthermore, it is highly unfair and unreasonable to require women to get something that does not exist to cover an important medical procedure. It flies in the face of justice.

Contention Three: No rape and incest exceptions

Women do not always expect to simply become pregnant, and so this is not something that can be planned for. This is even more so the case in instances of rape or incest.

Once you're pregnant, you cannot get the insurance [8] [6] and so this creates serious problems for many women. To buy into a separate rider could cost more than simply purchasing an all-inclusive plan. Women will be forced to shell out more money to prepare for the possibility that they will be raped.

This strikes me as callous that the state would force women to, quite literally, buy "Rape Insurance."


Ultimately, fairness is about giving each their due, impartiality, and reasonability. It is not impartial to favor the interests of a very small minority over the will of the many. It is not reasonable to coerce women into buying something that does not even exist. It is not giving women their due when they are forced to pay extra money for "rape insurance."

Creating an "opt-out" might be fine for those so strongly opposed to abortions, but this is not an opt-out, it's a "buy-in;" the nature of which makes it hard on women to go about their lives with security and peace of mind. That is wrong.

This law is inherently unjust, and, as a consequence, totally unethical. The resolution is affirmed.


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3 - See Video (3:23)
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6 - (3:12)
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Thank you! Please VOTE PRO!


Thank you, bsh1, for this interesting debate. Under the rules, I may not include rebuttals in this round. I interpret this to mean that I may not respond to Pro's argument, and therefore I am neither rudely ignoring him nor dropping points. I will reply to his comments in the next round.

When a law is unethical

A law can be unethical if it contradicts a higher law or principle - for example, constitutional law, or universal moral values within a society. It might also be unethical if the procedures by which it was adopted were unethical - for instance if, in a democratic society the law was passed without a majority in parliament. As far as I know, there were no irregularities in the way the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act was adopted, and so this latter condition does not apply to the current debate.

Therefore, to win this debate Pro needs to show how the Act opposes some higher law or principle.

Americans are strongly divided about abortion

Some people think abortion is fine, and other people think it's murder. Opinion is strong and divided. Americans are split almost evenly pro-choice and pro-life. Most Americans think abortion should be illegal in some circumstances (72%), and 20% think it should always be illegal. [1]

It's no surprise, then, that most Americans (61%) object to their taxes being spent on elective abortions, or even that half (51%) think that private insurance shouldn't cover elective abortions either. [2]

The purpose of the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act

The purpose of the Act is to ensure that people are not forced to fund abortions through their health insurance premiums. Further, that policy holders are not unwittingly enabling their dependents to have abortions. Dependents now means children up to the age of 26. [3]

People who are opposed to abortion are not able to prevent other people from having abortions, but it does seem fair that they shouldn't be forced to fund them.

Similar legislation

Michigan's Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act exists in the context of similar legislation elsewhere. The Hyde Amendment prohibits public funds being used to pay for abortions except in limited cases. [4] At least 17 states have legislation that restricts abortion coverage in their insurance exchanges [5]

This means that the Opt-Out Act is consistent with wider legal trends in America. For Pro to prove that it is unethical, therefore, he needs to show that this background of public opinion and legislation that supports the Act is also unethical. Otherwise, he needs to show that the Opt-Out Act somehow deviates from these broader trends.


Less than 1% of abortions are because of rape [6]. Women who are raped or otherwise have unprotected sex can take the morning after pill, which costs between $30 and $60 [7]. First trimester abortions usually cost between $400 and $500.[8]

It's interesting that the focus of opposition to the Opt-Out Act has been on rape when abortions from rape are so rare. This debate is not about whether or not these abortions should occur, but about who should fund them. To me it doesn't seem obvious that private health funds should be more responsible for rape abortions than, say, a victim compensation fund.

What the Act doesn't do

The Opt-Out Act doesn't affect women's rights to have an abortion, nor does it affect their access to abortions. It only has the potential to affect who pays for those abortions in a minority of cases. In 2012, there were over 20,000 abortions in Michigan, of which only 3.3% were paid for through insurance. [9]

The Act does not prohibit insurance companies from including abortions, but only that they must be contained within a separate rider that is purchased separately. That way, the choice to include abortions in the policy is deliberate rather than inadvertant.

The Opt-Out Act was only passed last week, and it will not take affect until March next year. This gives insurance companies time to structure these riders. However, given that so few women have abortions under private insurance anyway, there may be little interest in them.

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks again to rross for what promises to be a great discussion. At this time, I will address Con's core case.


-- When a law is unethical --

I think we can condence Con's analysis into three succinct points. A law is unethical when it (1) violates a higher law (e.g. the Constitution), (2) violates a higher moral principle, and/or (3) was passed in an illicit or inappropriate way.

These points are not incompatible with my own framework analysis, i.e. that a law is ethical if it is "resonable and fair." Each one of these three points is used to determine reasonability and fairness. Hence, these criteria are good standards by which to measure a laws justness.

I would point out now, however, that should a law comport with 2 of these points, but not with 1, it would still be unethical. A law should meet all three of these points in order to be found ethical.

-- Americans are strongly divided about abortion --

Firstly, I think it is important to restate that this debate is not about abortion per se. The Supreme Court has already mades its ruling on abortion [1] and has extended women a right to privacy [2]. Moreover, as Con noted, the act doesn't remove a woman's de jure right to abortion. Thus, the question of whether or not aboriton should be legal has already be settled. This debate, then, is not about the permissibility of abortion, but rather whether this law is unethical considering that abortion is already legal.

Secondly it is important to remember that this debate is specific to Michigan, not the U.S. as a whole. Both of Con's sources are national studies, and do not contain regionally-specific data. Thus, they can give only very vague insights into Michigan's state of affairs.

Moreover, if only 20% of all Americans think abortion should always be illegal, than 80% think that it should be permissible in some or all cases. This is a overwhelming majority of people. Despite a vociferous opposition, then, it seems as if this issue is less divisive than Con would have it appear.

Con then asserts that many Americans object to takes being spent on abortions and that 51% think that private insurance shouldn't cover abortions. Yet, this study was from 2009 and the 51% statistic falls within its margin of error. There is a far more reliable, recent, definitive, and Michigan-specific study we can turn to for clarity [3]. It found that 47% of Michigan citizens oppose the law while 41% support it. The margin of error was 4%. This clearly indicates that more Michigan residents oppose the act than support it. Furthermore, an even larger percent of women oppose the law (49%). Since women are those most impacted by the law, their opinions should be carefully evaluated.

-- The Purpose of the Act --

I think it is important here to draw a distinction between an opt-out and an opt-in. To opt-out is "to choose not to participate in something." [4] An opt-in is the converse, where one choose to participate in something. This act is an opt-in, not an opt-out (despite the name). It forces people to buy into additional insurance, rather than simply allowing them to refuse to have a certain portion of the package.

However, I think that this law also has a secondary purpose. It is likely also an attempt to inhibit people's ability to get abortions by pricing them out of the system. This--for teens and the poor--is incredibly unfair.

-- Similar Legislation --

I fail to see the importance of laws elsewhere when we are considering an internal Michigan affair. Moreover, there are examples of States that enshrine abortion rights in law. Maryland, for instance, has passed legislation like several other states to protect abortion rights in the unlikely event that Roe v. Wade was overturned. [5]

Con then claims that 17 states constitute a "wider legal trend in America." Yet, all 17 of these states--with the exception of Wisconsin--are in the South or the central plains region of the U.S. Therefore, this seems like a regional phenomenon more so than a national trend.

-- Rape --

Regardless of how many times rape occurs, it still represents an important impacted group of people. Many women--especially teens or the poor--may not have 60 dollars to spend on the pill or may be concerned about potential health effects (bleeding, allergies, etc.) of the medication. Moreover, rape victims have endured a highly traumatic experience and, as a result, may not have the presence of mind to take the morning after pill. It seems ridiculous to say to women in general, though, that if you're raped or have an unplanned pregnancy that you have one chance--the morning after pill--and then you just have to deal with it.

-- What the act doesn't do --

I will quarrel with Con's point that this act doesn't restrict "access to abortions." For the poor and for teens, this act has a real deterrent impact on them. It prices them out of an abortion, and thus severly hampers their access to safe abortion services.

The ACA would have increased the number of ensured abortions [6], but is no impeded by the unpopular Michigan legislation. It seems callous to force people to anticipate unexpected events like rape, incest, and unplanned pregnancies, and to force people to pay more money in anticipation of these events.

Thanks to Con!


Thank you! Please VOTE PRO!


Burden of Proof

Pro initiated this debate with a positive claim and he has sole BoP. He needs to prove that the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act is unethical. I do not need to prove that it is ethical, but only refute Pro's argument.

In round 2, Pro suggested that we share the burden of proof, but the conditions of the debate were set out in round 1, and I reject his round 2 suggestion.

This debate is about funding

This debate is about who funds abortion, not about abortion itself. So I'm astonished that Pro says "women are those most impacted by the law".

If the law were about abortion, it would make sense. Women are the ones who get pregnant and whose bodies are operated on when an abortion is performed. But I don't understand why women are necessarily the most affected by a law about abortion funding. After all, excepting cases of rape, an unwanted pregnancy is the responsibility of a man and a woman. One might even suggest that given the disproportionate physical burden the situation places on women, the men involved might - on average - assume more of the financial burden. But at the very least - in fairness - the cost of abortion should be equally split between men and women, at the population level.

That would be fair, but it's possible that it is not what occurs in Michigan. Perhaps the people there think like Pro, and assume that funding abortion is a woman's responsibility. Certainly that assumption runs through all the objections to this new law, and is the main reason why I think these objections are unfair and hypocritical, as I'll explain below.

"Rape Insurance"

Pro says that it strikes him as "callous that the state would force women to, quite literally, buy "Rape Insurance.""

I absolutely agree. Rape victims should not have to pay for their own abortions, given that abortion is legal. And yet, this is exactly what Pro is arguing for. He thinks that abortions that are a consequence of rape should be paid for from the victim's own health fund. Of course, in Pro's model, it wouldn't be called "rape insurance". It would just be a general health insurance that covered abortions from rape, but it's the same principle. A woman is responsible for maintaining a health insurance so that she's covered in case of rape.

As I showed in the previous round, 97% of abortions in Michigan are not covered by private insurance. This includes abortions from rape. That means that in Michigan, the vast majority of abortions from rape are paid for by the victim herself.

If just under 1% of abortions are from rape (as I showed last round), then there are about 200 such abortions in Michigan each year. Six or seven of these would be covered by private insurance and potentially affected by the Opt-Out Act. Roughly 193 rape victims are paying for their own abortions. This is more than 25 times as many as are affected by the Act.

If Pro thinks it's callous that women are forced to buy insurance, what about all these victims who don't have insurance or choose not to use it? Surely, it's equally if not more callous that these women have to pay for their own abortions.

Victims compensation

The Michigan Department of Community Health will pay medical and other expenses to crime victims up to $25,000 [1]. This money comes from criminal fines paid in Michigan's courts and in federal courts. Rape victim expenses should be paid from this fund.

If Michigan's victims compensation program is failing to support rape victims appropriately, then the outrage should be directed here, because raped women should not have to pay for their own abortions. And the implication that Pro is making, that women should take out private health cover for this eventuality, is unfair and sad. Not everyone can afford private health cover, and in any case, it's unreasonable to define crime-related health costs as the victim's responsibility.

Some people are strongly against abortion

In Michigan, there are a large number of people who believe that abortion is wrong and even that it is equivalent to murder. Often this belief is associated with religion.

Last round, I presented some statistics to illustrate this point. Pro has argued about margin of error, region of sampling, etc., in an attempt to show that these people are in a minority. He feels that if he can prove that 51% of the population of Michigan are pro-abortion then he has somehow won.

But actually my point was quite different, and I will try to illustrate it by analogy.

Imagine there is a large factory where 40% of the employees won't eat pork for religious reasons, but 60% are happy to eat pork. The canteen policy could be to mix bacon in with everything, since it pleases most people (Pro's position), or it could serve bacon separately for those who ask for it (my position).

The Opt-Out Act is like that. People who oppose abortion for religious reasons are upset at the idea that their health fund premiums are going towards abortions. It is reasonable and fair that they shouldn't have to fund something that goes against their consciences.

Saying that they can just refuse the abortion part of a policy is like saying that orthodox Jews can just pick out bits of the bits bacon from the casserole. They can't, because the whole thing is contaminated according to the way they see it.

Also, importantly, policy-holders are potentially enabling their dependants to get abortions, including children up to the age of 26. Pro dropped this point. The Act requires employers who purchase the extra rider to inform all affected employees. This avoids the possibility of policy holders unwittingly supporting their dependants' abortions.

"the poor" are not affected by the Act

The Act only affects people who have private health insurance. Therefore, Pro's argument that the Act inhibits insurance by pricing out "the poor" is ridiculous. Poor people don't buy private health insurance. Either they have no insurance, or they are covered by Medicaid, which applies to people who earn up to 133% of the poverty level. [2]

citizens' initiative

The Act was introduced as a citizens initiative. This is a form of direct democracy that exists in Michigan as well as 23 other states [3], whereby a bill can go before parliament if it gets enough signatures. Pro argues that this is a case of "the minority imposing its beliefs on the majority", and that it is "bypassing normal legal processes," but he is wrong on both counts.

It's true that the 300,000 signatures on the petition represents a minority of Michigan's population. However, this petition only served to get the bill submitted to the legislature. Then, it was passed by both houses of the Michigan legislature, which are democratically elected and so the vote does represent the majority.

Citizens' initiative is a normal legal process in Michigan. It has existed for over a hundred years and has been used successfully on numerous occasions. [4]


People who are opposed to abortion shouldn't be forced to fund it, and nor should they be forced to cover their dependants' abortions without their knowledge. The Opt-Out Act aims to avoid such injustices from occurring.

Pro has argued that the Act will place an undue burden on poor women, but as I showed, it doesn't apply to poor women. Only 3% of abortions in Michigan are currently covered by private insurance. The vast majority of women are paying for abortions out of pocket.

No woman should have to pay for an abortion (or for childbirth costs, for that matter) that are a direct result of being raped, whether or not she has private insurance. It is a matter for victims compensation.

Pro has failed to show that this law is unethical.


Debate Round No. 3


Thanks to rross for a wonderful debate. I will use this round to present a final line-by-line of the round and present some concluding thoughts. This will be my first opportunity to respond to several of Con's points, and I will attempt to make those necessary arguments brief.


Con tries to shunt the sole BOP on to me, saying "I reject his round 2 suggestion." Yet, Con's refusal is hardly reason enough to skew the debate so heavily against Pro. Con says that she must only refute my arguments--but why then is she required to construct a case of her own? The reason why each side is asked to present their own case (without rebutting) first, is because they should advance and defend their own theories about the resolution. This means that Con clearly had to present reasons why the act was ethical and to defend those reasons as part of her case.

Thus, inasmuch as why both had cases and have to defend them against attack, we share the BOP. I have asserted this shared burden since the start of R2.

We have also, essentially, agreed to the evaluative mechanism proposed by Con in the last round as it was DROPPED. As stated in R3: "A law is unethical when it (1) violates a higher law (e.g. the Constitution), (2) violates a higher moral principle, and/or (3) was passed in an illicit or inappropriate way...I would point out now, however, that should a law comport with 2 of these points, but not with 1, it would still be unethical. A law should meet all three of these points in order to be found ethical."

-- This Debate is About Funding --

Con devotes a large portion of her last speech discussing the fact that this debate is about funding. Regardless of who is most affected by the legislation, we can still point to several problems that make it an unethical proposition.

Con says that the cost of abortion should be borne by the men and women responsible--but in the case of a rape, it is not always possible to identify the man involved. Con also has failed to address the idea that many couples simply cannot afford this type fo funding.

-- "Rape Insurance" --

Con states that any insurance policy on abortion included as part of a comprehensive package would be the same thing as forcing victims to pay for their own abortions, making my stance contradictory. Yet, we can draw a distinction. It is one thing to force a woman to buy a specific, added rider for abortions and it is another to simply include abortion services under the normal premiums women would otherwise be paying. Therefore, I am not forcing women to pay any more than they normally would for generic insurance because under this new ACA scheme, abortion would be included in that generic package. Con, conversely, is forcing them to pay additional fees.

Con then asserts that 97% of victims don't use insurance to cover abortions. Con failed to address the point I made last round that the ACA's abortion coverage, which is designed to increase coverage rates, is due to come on line later next year. In this way, Con's point moot. The ACA would have gotten more people covered, and the situation Con is describing would no onger exist as it does today. This act stops that change from happening.

-- Victims' Compensation --

1. Con has gone totally off-topic here. We are focused on the specific act outlined in the resolution and are debating its morality or immorality in the status quo. We are not debating hypothetical alternatives to the problem. In the status quo, by Con's own admission, no compensatino is given to victims of rape--Con's says their "expenses should be paid from this fund" which simultaneously asserts that this fund is not currently doing that in the status quo. Since rape victims can get no money from this fund now, they need some way to defray the costs of their abortion services. That requires insurance--and this act is impeding their access to it.

2. Con can give no timeline for when such a change might be effected. What if it takes 20 years for this und to cover abortions? That would be too late for hundreds of victims. Con is just throwing out an example with no idea of its ability to be implemented.

3. Con says, "this money comes from criminal fines paid in Michigan's courts and in federal courts." Yet, Con's source does not contain the words "fine, "fund," etc. COn fails to warrant this statement, and as it is the last round an I will have no chance to examin and critique her sources on this, it would be a bit late to introduce such evidence.

4. The fund only gives out money if no insurance is available to the victim [1]. Moreover, depending on how the fund determines things, it could rule that an abortion is not an "injury" and therefore is not coverable under thier auspices. This demonstrates again that Con's counterplan is not only extra-topical, but it is also nebulous and not necessarily realistic.

-- Polling --

Con essentially drops that a majority of people in Michigan support abortion. She never once contested my statistical analysis of the facts. A government is also a representative of the people--another fact Con glosses over. Insofar as the people's will is clear, and insofar as the government violated that will, the government has acted unethically.

Had this act simply allowed people to abstain from the abortion element, it may have been fine. But, instead, it forces people to purchase into the plan. It is one thing to simply allow people to decline a polciy for no charge, it is another to force them to obtain it with money. In this way, people who don't want the coverage to avoid it, while allowing those needing it to have it.

I said in R3: "To opt-out is 'to choose not to participate in something.' An opt-in is the converse...this act is an opt-in, not an opt-out..It forces people to buy into additional insurance, rather than simply allowing them to refuse to have a certain portion of the package."

Ultimately, taxpayers pay for many policies they don't like--many dislike foodstamps or medicare, but the government is still ethically able to force people to pay into those programs. Why then cannot the same be done for abortion, a Constitutional right?

-- The Poor --

Again, Con is missing out on the effects of the ACA. Nationally, the ACA is targeted at insuring the poor. So when Con says the poor don't have health insurance, she is missing the point. The law in the status quo has been created as a stopgap measure to prevent the ACA from taking full effect in 2014. More poor will be covered by insurers, and so more will be impacted.

-- Citizen's Iniative --

The executive veto is a key component of the system of checks and balances of any government. Bypassing that check is problemativ because it allows the legislature to call the shots unimpeded. And when that citizen's initative represents only 4% of the State, that initiative is not the voice of the citizens, it is the voice of a zealous minority seeking to impose its beliefs on the state.


1. No abortion riders currently exist. So, women will be required to buy insurance that doesn't exists--this is patently unfair and a violation of the law as set down by Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

2. You can't get insurance one you're pregnant.

3. This law is not part of a broader trend.

4. This law has a secondary purpose of hindering accesst to abortions


1. A law is unethical when it violates a higher law, as this does with the DROPPED Planned Parenthood v. Casey example

2. A law is unethical when it violates a higher moral doctrine (like fairness), as it does by requiring women to buy something that doesn't exist and by disadvantaging the poor

3. A law is unethical when it was passed unethically, as it was by an unjust "citizen's" initiative.

If ANY SINGLE ONE of these three points goes in my favor, as per the CONCEDED framework, you must vote Pro.


Thanks! VOTE PRO!


Thank you to bsh1 for this interesting debate.


There has been a kind of craziness in the way the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act has been reported in the media. It's been called a "rape insurance law" and part of a war on women. In fact, it's a very modest change, that will affect very few people and it's fair.

A substantial number of Americans are deeply opposed to abortion. They don't want their tax or their insurance dollars to go towards abortions. Also, they want to make sure that they are not inadvertantly enabling their dependants to get abortions. The Michigan Act has been put in place to protect these people from such occurrences. Pro has not argued with any of this. I assume he accepts it as true.

The new structure of private healthcare in Michigan means that if people want abortions, they need to either pay for them directly (as 97% of women already do), or purchase a an additional rider on their basic health insurance.

Neither Pro nor I know what these additional riders will cost, or how much the price of a basic health package will drop now it doesn't cover abortion. However, purchasing extra cover on insurance for particular services is nothing new. As I showed above, abortions typically cost between $400-$500, and so the cost of the extra rider is not likely to be astronomical. The Act does not affect Michigan's poorest families, who are covered by Medicaid. I will expand on this point below.

The Act was passed by the state legislature, a democratically elected body that represents the people of Michigan. It was submitted by citizens' initiative, a process of direct democracy that has existed in Michigan for over 100 years. This is all legitimate.

Pro argues that because most people in Michigan are pro-abortion, the Act is undemocratic. But the Act does not affect women's rights or access to abortion. It only affects who will fund it in a small proportion of cases.

The Burden of Proof

Pro did not mention a shared burden of proof in Round 1. He did not mention that I would need to prove that the Act is ethical. Now he is arguing that a shared burden of proof is implied in the structure of the rounds, because in Round 2 I had to present my case without any rebuttals.

I don't think that this structure implies a shared burden at all. In Round 1, Pro provided links for the Act and its context, and I assumed that in Round 2 I would put forward a case that the Act is not unethical. If Pro had other intentions for this debate, he should have articulated them in Round 1.

Therefore, the burden is solely on Pro to prove that the Act is unethical, and he has not done so.

Victims Compensation

The vast majority of abortions that are a result of rape (about 97%) are not covered by insurance and are not affected by the Act. Pro has failed to respond to this point, and presumably accepts it as true.

No woman should have to pay for her own medical expenses as a result of rape, and that is why there is victims compensation.

In the resolution, Pro referred to the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act as "Rape Insurance Law". He claimed that "women will be forced to shell out more money to prepare for the possibility that they will be raped."

But now he says that victims compensation is "off topic". Not at all. Victims compensation is responsible for making sure that women don't have to buy insurance in case of rape. As far as I know, it works effectively, but - to repeat my point - if it doesn't, then the outrage about rape victims should be focussed on victims compensation. Because it covers all women, and not just 3% of them.

1-2. Rape victims do get money from victims compensation. I have no idea why Pro is claiming otherwise. The source I provided last round especially mentions sexual assault victims.

3. Pro argues that my source does not contain the word "fine". This is quite untrue. In the "who pays?" section it says, "The state also receives money to help crime victims from criminal fines collected in federal courts." [my emphasis] [1] He's right that the source doesn't use the word "fund", but it does say "money to support this service".

4. Pro suggests that victims compensation "could rule that an abortion is not an "injury" and therefore is not coverable". Of course abortion is not an injury. It's a medical procedure in response to an unwanted pregnancy. Further, an officially defined "injury" isn't needed to be eligible for victims compensation. Pro is just making stuff up.


In Round 3, Pro stated:

"The ACA would have increased the number of ensured abortions [s.6], but is no impeded by the unpopular Michigan legislation." [my emphasis]

I took this to mean the ACA aimed to ensure a greater number of abortions but would not be impeded by the Michigan Act. I thought this comment was irrelevant and, if anything, favorable to my side.

But now, in the final round, Pro starts proclaiming, "Con failed to address the point I made last round that the ACA's abortion due to come on line later next year" and that "This act stops that change from happening."

I would like to point out that he never made that claim at all. And nor does his source, which says that,

"The law allows states (through legislation) to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an exchange. If insurance coverage for abortion is included in a plan in the exchange, a separate premium is required for this coverage paid for by the policyholder." [my emphasis] [2]

Pro has totally misrepresented this issue.

Poor women are not affected by the Act

Pro dropped the point that poor women are covered by Medicaid and unaffected by the Act. As I showed in previous rounds, Medicaid applies to women under 133% of the poverty level. These women do not and will not get private insurance, subsidized or not, at the health exchanges under the ACA. Medicaid is administered separately, and is publicly funded [3]. From Pro's Round 1, the Act only applies to "a qualified health plan offered through an American health benefit exchange"[4]. It does not apply to anyone on Medicaid.

Things I did not drop

With one exception, I did not drop the following points:

1. No abortion rider currently exists. As I stated in the final paragraph of Round 2: it will not take affect until March next year. This gives insurance companies time to structure these riders. After all, that's the way legislation works. It's passed and then businesses and individuals make changes accordingly within a specified timeframe. Pro subsequently dropped this point.

2. It's true that it won't be possible to get abortion coverage for existing pregnancies. I did drop that point because I agree, and also I don't see how it's relevant to whether the Act is unethical.

3. The law is part of a broader trend. This was never rebutted by Pro. He argued that it's part of a regional trend rather than an America-wide trend. I don't see how this in any way negates the idea that the Michigan Act is part of a broader trend, so that statement still stands.

4. The Act does not hinder access to abortions. Pro's argument was that poor women could not afford the extra abortion rider. As I have clearly shown, this argument is absurd because poor women are not and will not be on private health insurance. They are on Medicaid, and therefore not in any way affected by the Act. The Act does not limit access to abortion.


The Michigan Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act was passed in a normal, democratic process. It fairly protects citizens from being forced to fund things they find unconsciable. It does not limit access to abortion. It does not affect poor people.

There are plenty of injustices in the US to get angry about. But this really isn't one of them.


Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
lol, apparently I'm a bit late to scoring this debate. Regardless I wrote an RFD for it:


This was well debated, well structured, and well mannered by both sides. However, the nature of the resolution was exposed by CON to be based upon a resoundingly immoral premise. No woman should have to pay to take care of their rape under any circumstances. Fenangling about insurance vs riders vs out-of-pocket completely ignores this issue. This makes the victory exceptionally clear to CON.

The clarity of this point was such that were I able to award more than three points for arguments, I would have.
Posted by bsh1 5 years ago

I see how it can be interpreted that way. Thank you so much for your clarification!
Posted by NiqashMotawadi3 5 years ago
By Con* I mean...
Posted by NiqashMotawadi3 5 years ago

I suppose you are referring to this part...

"The Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot impose undue impediments on obtaining an abortion--for example, they cannot make it legal, but then proceed to make it impossible to attain."

Con's response was...

" The Act does not hinder access to abortions. Pro's argument was that poor women could not afford the extra abortion rider. As I have clearly shown, this argument is absurd because poor women are not and will not be on private health insurance. They are on Medicaid, and therefore not in any way affected by the Act. The Act does not limit access to abortion."

I happen to agree with that point, so I don't think it was actually dropped by Pro as this seems to be a direct refutation.
Posted by bsh1 5 years ago

Just a quick question. What did you think about the dropped Supreme Court evidence re: point 1.
Posted by NiqashMotawadi3 5 years ago

I thank both debaters.

S&G [to Con]
Pro committed many spelling mistakes, probably because he didn't bother to use a spell-checker in some rounds. For instance, he wrote "no compensatino[sic] is given", "when that citizen's initative[sic]", "check is problemativ[sic]" and many others. Con seems to have just committed one typo when she said "or purchase a an additional rider ", but other than that she had superior spelling and grammar.

Conduct [To Pro]
Pro was reasonably polite from what I read. Whereas, Con used many insults and had a rude demeanor. It shocked me that she would say "Pro is just making stuff up."

Arguments[To Con]
I agree with Con that the BoP was not explicitly described in R1, so there is no reason for her to assume it is shared, unless she was to take the charitable position. Pro's argument that the case structure determines the BoP is a red herring, as I myself have been in debates where the BoP was solely on my opponent, and yet I had to present a case simply to undermine his, without having to satisfy the BoP of the debate. Pro had to satisfy the burden of proof and failed to do so. Pro argues,"I think we can condence Con's analysis into three succinct points. A law is unethical when it (1) violates a higher law (e.g. the Constitution), (2) violates a higher moral principle, and/or (3) was passed in an illicit or inappropriate way.... should a law comport with 2 of these points, but not with 1, it would still be unethical."

We were not given any solid evidence but subjective opinions that the law violates (1) and (2). Pro's argument for (3) was an appeal to democratic majorities, but Con provided a good refutation with the bacon analogy that minorities can still have laws with limited scales of effect, as it really affects their utility(happiness) and doesn't really affect the happiness of others which she seems to base on John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism, but that is a good objection, nevertheless
Posted by bsh1 5 years ago

Thank you--I appreciate that. My frank assessment of the round: I think on many points you did dominate the flow. I think I had just one point going in my favor.
Posted by rross 5 years ago
You're right, bsh1. It was too strong. I do think I won on arguments, but your conduct has been great, and you don't deserve that comment.

This sort of voting for friends is annoying, that's all.
Posted by bsh1 5 years ago
@rross, Juris's RFD is a bit perplexing. But I don't agree that there was "no way" I could have won. I think this debate may was close. Frankly, I did expect to be voted down; but there's "no way" I could have won...I respectfully disagree with that characterization.
Posted by rross 5 years ago
Wow. This is the third time you've voted for bsh1, juris, and on none of the occasions to you give any sign of actually reading the debate.

"Con's arguments are very relevant and direct to the motion. Pro did not make a sufficient rebuttal against con's."

"Same reasons with that of Beverlee. Pros arguments are very clear and relevant to the proposition."

And now this RFD which makes no sense at all.

Well, good luck to you and bsh1. There's no way he won this debate in terms of actual arguments, as you'd realize if you actually read it. But I suppose it's quite long and vaguely technical, so I realize that it's unrealistic to think that anyone would actually read it. Although I would hope that people would refrain from voting in that case - but I guess that's hoping for too much too.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by NiqashMotawadi3 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
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Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:14 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments. (I left sources tied as both debaters seem to have not misinterpreted sources, given that Con falsified Pro's accusations).