House gives fi­nal OK to ban on abor­tion in­sur­ance cov­er­age,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Chuck Lin­dell clin­dell@states­ Con­tact Chuck Lin­dell at 512-912-2569. Twit­ter: @chuck­lin­dell

The Texas House gave fi­nal ap­proval Wed­nes­day to a bill that would pro­hibit in­sur­ance cov­er­age for most abor­tions.

House Bill 214 next goes to the Se­nate, which two weeks ago passed iden­ti­cal leg­is­la­tion to ban abor­tion cov­er­age in pri­vate in­sur­ance plans as well as in­sur­ance of­fered to state em­ploy­ees and un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act. One of those bills will need ap­proval from both houses be­fore be­ing sent to Gov. Greg Ab­bott, who re­quested the leg­is­la­tion.

Sev­eral Repub­li­can abor­tion op­po­nents took lit­tle time to cel­e­brate, how­ever, fo­cus­ing in­stead on an ap­par­ently stalled bill that would pro­hibit lo­cal gov­ern­ments from con­tract­ing with, or di­rect­ing tax­payer money to, Planned Par­ent­hood and other abor­tion providers.

Speak­ing from the House floor, Rep. Jonathan Stick­land, R-Bed­ford, asked Speaker Joe Straus, R-San An­to­nio, if there was a way to force ac­tion on House Bill 14. Although ap­proved by the House State Af­fairs Com­mit­tee two weeks ago, a com­mit­tee re­port has not yet been filed with the Cal­en­dars Com­mit­tee, which sched­ules bills for floor votes.

The un­usu­ally long de­lay ap­pears to be an at­tempt to tor­pedo a bill that has 81 House co-au­thors and is an Ab­bott pri­or­ity, Stick­land said.

“What can we do to force them to phys­i­cally hand it to the Cal­en­dars Com­mit­tee, be­cause they don’t ap­pear ready to do so,” he asked.

Straus of­fered no di­rec­tion be­yond sug­gest­ing that Stick­land talk to com­mit­tee lead­ers to de­ter­mine the cause of the holdup.

Blam­ing the de­lay on by Rep. By­ron Cook, the Repub­li­can chair­man of State Af­fairs, Stick­land asked if com­mit­tee chair­men who step out of line could be re­moved by the House speaker. “Not by this speaker, no,” Straus replied.

Un­der the in­sur­ance bill that was ap­proved with­out dis­cus­sion on a largely party-line vote Wed­nes­day, women who want abor­tion med­i­cal cov­er­age would have to buy a sup­ple­men­tal plan, if of­fered by their in­surer.

Abor­tions needed to save a woman’s life would be ex­empt. Dur­ing Tues­day’s ini- tial de­bate on the bill, Repub­li­cans de­feated Demo­cratic amend­ments that also would have ex­cluded preg­nan­cies from rape or incest and fe­tuses with fa­tal con­di­tions.

Dur­ing the 30-day spe­cial ses­sion, the House has passed two other abor­tion-re­lated bills:

HB 13, which would re­quire more rig­or­ous re­port­ing of med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions af­ter an abor­tion, is still pend­ing in a Se­nate com­mit­tee. The Se­nate ap­proved a nearly iden­ti­cal bill July 25, but the House has not acted on it.

HB 215, in­creas­ing the re­port­ing on mi­nors who re­ceive an abor­tion, passed the House on Fri­day. The Se­nate passed a sim­i­lar bill July 25. As yet, nei­ther cham­ber has acted on the other’s bill.

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