Texas to re­strict abor­tion cov­er­age

The Denver Post - - NEWS -

AUSTIN, TEXAS» The Repub­li­can-con­trolled Texas Leg­is­la­ture voted Sat­ur­day night to re­strict in­sur­ance cov­er­age for abor­tions over the ob­jec­tions of op­po­nents who say do­ing so could force some women to make heart-wrench­ing choices be­cause no ex­cep­tions will be made in cases of rape and in­cest.

The state Se­nate ap­proved 20-10 a bill re­quir­ing women to pur­chase ex­tra in­sur­ance to cover abor­tions ex­cept amid med­i­cal emer­gen­cies.

A fi­nal, largely for­mu­laic vote soon will send the mea­sure to Gov. Greg Ab­bott, who is ex­pected to sign it into law. They had al­ready cleared the state House af­ter hours of emo­tional de­bate.

State law­mak­ers de­bated other bills lim­it­ing in­sur­ance cov­er­age for abor­tion dur­ing Texas’ reg­u­lar leg­isla­tive ses­sion that ended in May, but Ab­bott called a spe­cial ses­sion.

Ten states al­ready have laws re­strict­ing in­sur­ance cov­er­age of abor­tion in all pri­vate in­sur­ance plans: Idaho, In­di­ana, Kansas, Ken­tucky, Michi­gan, Mis­souri, Ne­braska, North Dakota, Ok­la­homa and Utah. All make ex­cep­tions if the mother’s life is en­dan­gered; only In­di­ana and Utah also make ex­cep­tions for rape and in­cest.

The mea­sure’s House spon­sor, Repub­li­can Rep. John Smithee, said it ap­plies only to “elec­tive” abor­tions and pro­motes “eco­nomic free­dom” by not forc­ing Texas pol­i­cy­hold­ers who ob­ject to abor­tion to “sub­si­dize” in­sur­ance cov­er­age for women un­der­go­ing the pro­ce­dure.

“What we’re say­ing here is: If you want to buy this cov­er­age, you can buy it,” said Smithee, a Repub­li­can from Amar­illo.

Out­num­bered Democrats dis­missed the bill as purely po­lit­i­cal, ar­gu­ing that in­sur­ance com­pa­nies al­ready cover only med­i­cally nec­es­sary abor­tions.

They also said the law will re­quire women to pur­chase in­sur­ance plans that in­sur­ers won’t ac­tu­ally of­fer be­cause too few women will buy them, not know­ing in ad­vance that they will be un­der­go­ing abor­tions.

Rep. Chris Turner, head of the House Demo­cratic Cau­cus, said the bill would ef­fec­tively re­quire women to buy “rape in­sur­ance.”

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