Texas women may soon need to buy separate insurance policies if they want coverage for non-emergency abortions, thanks to a Texas bill given preliminary approval by the state’s House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon.
Under the bill, only women whose lives would be in danger from continuing a pregnancy may use general insurance plans to cover their abortions, no matter if their insurance is through the Affordable Care Act, the state, or a private health plan.
Democratic state representatives attempted to derail the bill throughout Tuesday, trying to add seven amendments, including ones that would institute exceptions such as rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, ectopic pregnancies and the mother’s mental health. Republicans defeated them all, and the measure passed 95-51.
“Women don’t plan to be raped. Parents don’t plan for their children to be victims of incest,” said state Rep. Chris Turner, a Democrat, adding that the bill amounted to “rape insurance.” “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.”
“Are you suggesting I would have to force my daughter to continue a pregnancy from a rapist?” asked Democratic Rep. Donna Howard. “You don’t want to subsidize that? That’s how far we’re going to go with this?”
Opponents also criticized the bill as unnecessary and politically-driven, since insurance plans in Texas rarely offer abortion coverage in the first place. But supporters argue that it will stop people who object to abortion from having to shoulder their costs. “It’s a question of economic freedom, and freedom in general,” the bill’s author, Republican Rep. John Smithee, said.
The House is set to give final approval to the bill Wednesday, after which it will head to the Senate, which already approved an identical proposal in July. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, is widely expected to sign the bill, since getting this measure passed was one of his motivations for calling the Texas legislature into a special session.
Two other abortion-related measures are also still pending in the Texas legislature: One bill would require abortion providers to give the state more information about their patients, while the other would ban government organizations from contracting with clinics affiliated with abortion providers — even if the clinics themselves don’t actually perform abortion.