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Grand Rapids City not willing to narrow abortion coverage for city employees

Despite some public pressure, Grand Rapids City Commissioners declined to support a proposal that would restrict abortion coverage for city workers. A group turned in more than a thousand signatures in favor of the proposal last month.

Health insurance for Grand Rapids city workers does not cover any elective surgeries. So abortions are only covered when deemed “medically necessary”. The proposal would’ve defined that to mean only in cases of rape, incest and to protect the health of the mother.

After an hour and half of impassioned public testimony on both sides of the issue Tuesday night the mayor turned to the board. But not one commissioner agreed to bring City Commissioner David Shaffer’s proposal to a vote.

Shaffer didn’t say much during the meeting. Afterwards he said he did the right thing bringing the proposal to the table.

“I believe we’re elected and we don’t chose which issues come before us or not; especially when dealing with taxpayer funds,” Shaffer said.

The proposal stemmed from complaints that taxpayer money could pay for abortions through the heath care plan for city workers.

Adrienne Urban lives in Grand Rapids. She spoke in support of the proposal. She’s disappointed but glad the issue was brought up.

“I hope I gave some people things to think about because I think these are big issues. They’re obviously big issues or there wouldn’t be this kind of turnout,” Urban said.

Shaffer say he doesn’t plan to push the issue unless other elected leaders change their minds.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Enterprise Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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