On Wednesday the Texas Senate passed a bill which would ban general insurance policies from covering abortions for private citizens, government employees, and those insured under the Affordable Care Act.
The bill, SB8, would still allow for coverage of abortions that are considered medically necessary to save a woman’s life. Senate Republicans defeated a series of amendments to the bill July 26 that would have expanded exceptions to include fatal fetal health conditions, serious mental health impairment, and pregnancies resulting from sexual assault or incest. Women who desire abortion coverage for other reasons would need to purchase a separate, supplemental plan, estimated to cost $12-$80 a year.
“I believe the majority of Texans prefer not to subsidize the elective abortion coverage of others,” said Republican Sen. Brandon Creighton, the bill’s author, according the Statesman. According to 2016 statistics from the University of Texas at Austin, 42 percent of Texans identify as pro-life, while 40 percent identify as pro-choice, with the remainder identifying as ‘neither’ or ‘unsure’.
The state has passed some of the strongest abortion restrictions in the U.S., and has become a hotbed of abortion controversy in the past few years. In the 2016 Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, the US Supreme Court struck down abortion restrictions in the state that required abortion clinics to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers and required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Currently, 25 states ban abortion coverage under the Affordable Care Act, while 10 states prohibit private insurance plans from offering general abortion coverage. “I believe Texas is behind, where we always lead on pro-life issues,” Creighton said.
Opponents say the bill discriminates against women, noting that the bill doesn’t include vasectomies. Creighton said that vasectomies don’t end a human life, which was his motivation for authoring SB8, according to a local T.V. channel. Republican Sen. Don Huffines voiced support for the bill, noting the large number of pro-life Texans.
“There are millions and millions of Texans that are pro-life. Should they be compelled to finance the costs of abortions that are essentially socialized by insurance companies in the cost of every consumers’ premium?” he said. The bill will now head to the Texas House for consideration.