The Texas House approved a bill on Tuesday requiring women to pay an insurance premium if they want their health plan to cover non-emergency abortions.
The House Bill 214, which now heads to the Senate for approval, passed in a 95 to 51 vote and includes no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities according to the Texas Tribune. “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. 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.
“What you are trying to prevent doesn’t exist,” Rep. Donna Howard said to Smitthee on the House floor, vehemently disagreeing with the bill. Smitthee responded to Howard and said the bill is critical to protecting those who object to abortions for religious or moral reasons. (Related: Texas AG Asks Court To Reconsider Defunding Planned Parenthood).
Texas House Democrats fought tirelessly to add provisions to the bill, including exceptions for ectopic pregnancies, rape, incest, fetal defects, and the what they call the “mental health of the mother.” House Dems also tried to convince the bill’s supporters to allow insurance companies to give women savings on their premiums if they choose to select non-emergency abortion health coverage, but House Republicans did not acquiesce.
Rep. Chris Turner strongly opposed the bill and said it basically forces women to buy rape coverage. “Women don’t plan to be raped. Parents don’t plan for their children to be victims of incest,” he said to the House chamber. “Asking a woman or a parent to foresee something like that and buy supplemental insurance to cover that horrific possibility is not only ridiculous, it is cruel.” Turner did not mention concerns on how the bill would effect women who terminated pregnancies for other reasons.
Approval of this bill comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a brief Monday asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to reconsider defunding Planned Parenthood by blocking Medicaid funds that currently go to the organization in Texas.
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