Texas passed a law on Tuesday ensuring that no taxpayers in the state will have to pay for general abortions any longer.
House Bill 214 — signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbot — means that pro-life Texans will not be forced to pay for women who want to have abortions. Insurance companies will, however, still cover emergency abortions, which the bill defines as those cases in which the mother’s life is in danger. The new law will not cover abortions in cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities, according to the Texas Tribune.
“This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policyholders to subsidize elective abortions. I am grateful to the Texas legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session,” Abbot said, according to the Texas Tribune. (Related: Texas House Approves Bill To Block Insurance Companies From Covering Abortion).
“As a firm believer in Texas values I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child,” reads the governor’s office statement. It requires women to pay an insurance premium if they want their health plan to cover non-emergency abortions. Women wanting their insurance providers to cover abortion costs will therefore have to consciously decide to pay extra for a service which was previously included in Texas healthcare packages.
The new law “will impact people who have coverage and will now be denied services,” said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas according to US News. “Regardless of how big that number is, people who have health coverage should be able to get the services they need,” she added.
“This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion,” said the bill’s author Rep. John Smithee in defense, according to the Texas Tribune. It’s not fair to require taxpayers to pay for abortion coverage if they do not agree with terminating the life of a fetus, he said. “It’s a question of economic freedom and freedom in general,” Smithee added.
Before the measure was passed by the House, Texas Democrats fought hard to add provisions to the bill, including exceptions for ectopic pregnancies, rape, incest, fetal defects, and “mental health of the mother.” House Democrats also tried to convince the bill’s supporters to allow insurance companies to give women savings on their premiums if they chose to select non-emergency abortion health coverage. House Republicans did not acquiesce and passed the bill on Aug. 8 in a 95 to 51 vote.
“This legislation is part of an agenda to shame, bully, and punish people seeking abortion,” said Amanda Williams, executive director of Texas’s Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, in reaction to the bill’s passage. “I’m not sure what the strategy might be moving forward,” Busby also said, given that multiple costly abortion suits are already ongoing in Texas.
The law’s adoption comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a brief on Aug. 7 asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider defunding Planned Parenthood in Texas by blocking Medicaid funds it receives.
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