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State legislation blocking abortion insurance coverage grows
Mary E. Harned, Staff Counsel with Americans United for Life.
Mary E. Harned, Staff Counsel with Americans United for Life.
By Adelaide Darling
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.- A recent report indicates that numerous states are passing restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion under the health care reform law.

Mary Harned, staff counsel at Americans United for Life, said that state-level pro-life laws passed in recent legislative sessions have “been a great victory for the unborn and women across the country.”

“The fact that these types of laws are successful,” Harned told CNA on Feb. 5, “shows that many Americans do not want public funds paying for abortions, and they also do not want their own insurance premiums paying for abortion.”

Harned responded to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization committed to “reproductive health” and formerly connected to Planned Parenthood.

The report analyzes state laws as the date approaches for the Affordable Care Act to go into effect. The law, which provides for state health care exchanges in which individuals and small businesses can find insurance plans, also gives states express authority to limit abortion coverage. 

According to Guttmacher, 20 states have passed legislation to restrict abortion coverage in insurance plans offered through the health care exchanges.

Some states require abortion coverage to be purchased separately so as to avoid using taxpayer money to fund abortions. Others prohibit abortion coverage in the exchange health plans except in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

Eight states have laws “restricting insurance coverage of abortion” altogether in private plans, including those in the exchanges. 

In addition, 18 states limit “abortion coverage in insurance plans for public employees,” and 13 states have more than one kind of restriction.

Harned said that the institute’s assessment of insurance coverage laws is “pretty accurate” and matches the study carried out by Americans United for Life.

“Polls show that the vast majority of Americans oppose the public funding for abortion,” she noted.

Public discussion of the Affordable Care Act “drew a lot of people’s attention to the fact that many insurance plans do cover abortions,” she added, and many states are now “very interested” in modifying such insurance coverage.

Harned said “an increase in interest” among the general American population has also been a driving force behind measures to restrict both public and private insurance funding of abortion procedures.

Citizens have come to the conclusion that they “do not want their tax dollars paying for their public employees to have abortions,” she explained, and in many states “they don’t want their premiums covering abortions for other people” either.

Americans United for Life has worked to provide legal counsel and model legislation for states wishing to enact pro-life laws.

Several states, including Alabama, Nebraska, South Carolina and Virginia, have relied upon the pro-life organization’s language in enacting laws restricting insurance coverage of abortion in the exchanges, Harned said.

“Our conclusion is that this is a great victory for the unborn, and for their mothers and for taxpayers,” she explained, adding that “we expect more states to follow.”

Tags: Abortion, Legislation, Health Care, Affordable Care Act

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