On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that forbids insurance providers in the state to cover abortion procedures. Women who want coverage for an abortion will have to purchase supplemental plans, if they are available.
The bill, called House Bill 214, prohibits private, state-offered, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance plans in the state of Texas to cover abortion procedures as part of their general coverage. The bill was heavily criticized by abortion rights advocates and Democrats due in part to the fact that the law does not offer exceptions for fetal abnormalities or for women who are victims of rape or incest. Abortions for medical emergencies will still be covered.
Women who want medical coverage for abortion procedures will have to buy supplemental health coverage if their insurers offer such plans.
Critics have dubbed the law, “rape insurance,” since women will have to anticipate their need for an abortion ahead of time. “Women don’t plan to be raped. Parents don’t plan for their children to be victims of incest,” said state Rep. Chris Turner, who wanted an amendment to the bill that would allow coverage for rape or incest. “Asking a woman or a parent to foresee something like that and buy supplemental insurance to cover that horrific possibility is not only ridiculous, it is cruel.”
Supporters of the bill argue it allows people who do not agree with abortion to avoid subsidizing the procedure.
“As a firm believer in Texas values I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child,” said Governor Abbott in a statement. “This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policy holders to subsidize elective abortions. I am grateful to the Texas legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session.”
Dr. G. Sealy Massingill, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, says the new law restricts women’s access to the full range of health care options. “Abortion and comprehensive reproductive health is health care,” he says. “Women deserve to have access to safe and legal abortion. It is a matter of constitutionally settled law that abortion is a protected right.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 10 states have laws that prohibit private insurance coverage of abortions, which include: Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah.