A bill requiring that abortion coverage be removed from all insurance plans and resold solely as abortion insurance has been signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. The controversial legislation has become known as the “rape insurance bill” because of its lack of exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities. House Bill 214 will effectively force people who might need an abortion to buy a specific extra policy to cover it — assuming that insurance companies even find policies covering the procedure by itself profitable enough to bother offering abortion-only plans.
While the Supreme Court has prevented states from making abortion illegal, states such as Texas have come up with a plethora of creative laws to effectively prevent all but the rich from being able to access abortion services. In 2011, Texas cut family planning funding in the state by 66 percent in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood — a decision that led to the closing of 25 percent of the state’s family planning clinics. In June, Abbott signed a bill that effectively banned all second-trimester abortions and allowed the state to prosecute anyone who helped a woman obtain a second-trimester abortion — whether they were the doctor performing the procedure, or just a friend driving an abortion-seeker to a clinic.
Medicaid in Texas is already banned from covering abortions, and of the estimated 60,000 people who undergo abortions in Texas each year only five percent use insurance to pay for it, according to Daniel Grossman, an abortion provider and researcher with the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. In effect, noted Dr. Sealy Massingill, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, the bill’s main consequence would be forcing poor mothers with wanted but unviable pregnancies into giving birth to children that will die shortly after leaving the womb.
“Women who have these conditions and need to have a termination in the hospital, especially if they’re medically ill — these bans make it difficult to access care,” explained Massingill. “To further restrict women who are already in painful and difficult situations, give them one more thing to be stressed about… it’s unconscionable.”
Already, the consequences of Texas’ attack on family planning and abortion services has been felt by women, as maternal mortality rates in the state have doubled.
Read the full story at Broadly.