Texas passes bill to require women pay extra for abortion access in health plans

By Ray Downs

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Texas lawmakers this week approved a bill that would require women to pay a separate health insurance premium to get coverage for elective abortions.

The bill will not allow exemptions for cases of fetal abnormalities, rape or incest, reported the Texas Tribune. It passed on a 95-51 vote Tuesday.


The bill's author, Republican state Rep. John Smithee, said abortion foes shouldn't contribute to abortion costs when they pay their health insurance bills to private health insurers.

"This isn't about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion," Smithee said.

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Democratic lawmakers posed several hypothetical scenarios to Smithee, who stood by his bill.

Democratic state Rep. Chris Turner said forcing women to pay extra to be covered in the case of a rape-induced pregnancy amounts to "rape insurance."

"Women don't plan to be raped. Parents don't plan for their children to be victims of incest," he said. "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."

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Democratic State Rep. Donna Howard asked Smithee whether a 10-year-old girl who became pregnant after a rape should be forced to pay extra for health insurance, or go through with the pregnancy.


"We're discussing taking the life of the innocent little baby because of something the baby had nothing to do with," Smithee said, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Democratic state Rep. Ina Minjarez said Smithee's bill adds to the economic handicaps women face in the state.

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"In Texas, women earn less, are paid unequally and lack childcare or paid family leave laws," Minjarez said. "That's why the economic impact of having a child is the number one factor women consider when making this incredibly difficult and personal decision."

Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said the bill would have a disproportionate impact on poor women.

"If a woman of means needs a procedure, she is able to pay for it out of pocket. A woman who does not have resources is not able to do so," she said.

The bill will now go to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who has shown support for it.

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