What Is "Abortion Insurance"? Texas Will Now Force Some Women To Buy It
While Congress is on its summer recess, and the country has been focused on the protests in Charlottesville, state lawmakers in Texas have been busy making it harder for women to obtain abortions. On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that requires Texas women to pay extra for abortion insurance.
The bill does not include exceptions for abortions in the case of rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities, according to the Texas Tribune. It applies to all non-emergency abortions, though Democrats attempted to amend the bill to include those exceptions. As he signed the bill into law on Tuesday, Abbott thanked supporters for passing it in the state legislature and referred to the bill as a way to "protect innocent life."
He said in a press release, "As a firm believer in Texas values I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child. I am grateful to the Texas Legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session.”
According to Slate, the bill bars insurance companies from providing abortion services in their basic care plans. And it's not limited to the insurances on the Affordable Care Act exchange market — it also applies to private insurance and plans sponsored by an employer.
Opponents of the bill argued that because it does not cover any non-emergency abortions, the bill will be harmful to women, and will also likely affect low-income women the most. Sen. Sylvia Garcia told the Texas Tribune:
No woman plans to have an abortion, and certainly no one can plan to be raped, no woman can plan to be sexually assaulted by someone she knows in her own family.
Texas' bill has also been referred to as the "rape insurance" bill by critics because by prohibiting health insurance providers from including abortion insurance on their basic plans, the bill essentially requires women to pay for extra insurance if they want to have coverage for an abortion in connection to rape.
Also on Tuesday, Abbott signed a bill that will require health care providers to report additional details about abortion complications. In the law, providers are required to submit reports to the state health commission within three days of an abortion complication. Information provided on the report will now include the patient's year of birth, marital status, state and county of residence, and the date of the patient's last menstrual cycle, according to the Texas Tribune. A $500 fine will be imposed on providers for each day they do not submit the new report.
According to Reuters, the passage of the bill makes Texas the 11th state to restrict abortion coverage in private health insurance plans. It will take effect Dec. 1.