Texas bill restricting insurance coverage
for abortions nears approval
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[August 10, 2017]
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas bill that
would restrict insurance coverage for abortions was approved by the
state's Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday, a
move critics called cruel and damaging to women's health.
The House measure would ban insurance coverage for abortions and require
women who wanted coverage to purchase a supplemental plan for an
abortion, the latest effort by the most-populous Republican-controlled
state to place restrictions on the procedure.
If enacted, the bill would take effect on Dec. 1 and make Texas the 11th
state to restrict abortion coverage in private insurance plans written
in the state.
The Republican-dominated Senate has passed a similar bill, and
Republican Governor Greg Abbott has shown support for the measures.
The bill's backers say it would protect abortion opponents from
subsidizing the procedure. A Democratic critic decried it as forcing
people to buy "rape insurance."
"It's a question of economic freedom and freedom in general," Republican
Representative John Smithee, the bill's sponsor, said in House debate on
Tuesday ahead of the bill receiving preliminary approval.
The Republican sponsor of the Senate bill, Brandon Creighton, has told
local media supplemental coverage would cost $12 to $80 a year
House Bill 214, which passed mostly on a party-line vote, does not offer
exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Abortion rights groups are
likely fight the measure in court if enacted.
"Women and parents will be faced with the horrific decision of having to
purchase 'rape insurance' to cover them if they are victimized,"
Democratic Representative Chris Turner said in a statement. "This is not
only ridiculous, but it is cruel."
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The U.S flag and the Texas State flag fly over the Texas State
Capitol in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brian
Idaho, Kansas and Oklahoma are among the 10 other states that make
abortion coverage a supplement on private plans. There are 25 states
with restrictions on abortion coverage in plans set up by state
exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act under former Democratic
President Barack Obama, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which
tracks such legislation.
"It is surprising that Texas has not done this before," said
Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager for Guttmacher.
The insurance measure is one of several bills concerning abortion
before Texas lawmakers in a special session that runs through next
The Senate has already approved bills that include requiring
physicians to improve notification of complications that occur
during abortions and another that prohibits local governments from
having contracts with abortion providers and their affiliates.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Lisa
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