The Texas House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill [text, PDF] that would prohibit health insurance plans from providing coverage for elective abortions. An elective abortion is defined as one in which the mother is not in danger of death or serious injury if the abortion is not performed. Insurance for an elective abortion would only be allowed if the coverage is provided separately from the other health plan coverage and the enrollee pays a premium for the coverage separately from the other health plan premium. The health insurer is not allowed to decrease the elective abortion premium by taking into account any cost savings from the other health plan that would result from having the elective abortion insurance. The insurer also cannot discount or reduce the premium of the other health plan for enrolling in the elective abortion premium. The bill was passed [vote record, PDF] by a vote of 92-46. Proponents of the bill have stated [Reuters report] that it prevents opponents of abortion from subsidizing abortion. Similar bills have been passed in 10 other states. Opponents of the bill have called the bill a requirement to purchase “rape insurance” due to the bill having no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
Abortion has been a hotly debated political topic in the United States for many years. In July abortion rights groups filed a lawsuit in Texas over a law that banned a common method of second-trimester abortions. In June the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected [JURIST report] an anti-abortion health clinic’s argument that a San Francisco ordinance violated their First Amendment right to free speech. Also in June in the state of Ohio lawmakers voted [JURIST report] 24-9 in favor of a bill that would criminalize a common second trimester abortion procedure. Earlier that month the Supreme Court of Georgia barred doctors [JURIST report] from suing state over abortion law, holding that the state is immune from litigation unless it consents to being sued, rejecting a challenge to a 20-week abortion ban.