The Texas Senate on Wednesday approved Senate Bill 8, which would ban general insurance plans from covering abortions for private citizens, government employees and those who get insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
The bill would require women to purchase separate abortion coverage through a supplemental plan, said the bill’s author, Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe.
“I believe the majority of Texans prefer not to subsidize the elective abortion coverage of others,” Creighton said.
SB 8 allows insurance coverage for abortions needed to save a woman’s life, and Republicans defeated a series of Democratic amendments to expand exceptions to include fatal fetal health conditions, serious mental health impairment and pregnancies resulting from sexual assault or incest.
“Insurance is not meant for things you hope to do, it’s to cover something that is unexpected,” said Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston. “There is nothing more unexpected than finding yourself pregnant after rape or incest.
Creighton said 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.
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, noted that Texas does not require people to purchase extra coverage for other medical procedures, including vasectomies.
“Do you believe the government should tell private businesses how they operate?” Watson asked.
Watson also said SB 8 prohibits insurance companies from taking health care savings that abortion coverage provides when calculating premiums for abortion coverage — an unprecedented intrusion into how insurers conduct actuarial analyses, he said.
“There is no ban on this type of coverage, it is just allowed through a supplemental plan,” said Creighton, who estimated that supplemental abortion coverage would cost $12 to $80 a year.
Said Sen. Jose Menéndez, D-San Antonio: “It seems like we are dictating whether women can or cannot afford to have this procedure.”
But Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, said there is another factor to consider.
“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?” Huffines said.