Roundup: More Debate Over Public Employees’ Health Insurance Coverage of Abortions

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Roundup: More Debate Over Public Employees’ Health Insurance Coverage of Abortions

Rachel Larris

It seems like every day there’s more news about the sudden wave of thought that public employees’ health insurance plans that include coverage of abortion services are equivalent to “taxpayer-funded abortions.”

It seems like every day there’s more news about the sudden wave of thought that public employees’ health insurance plans that include coverage of abortion services are equivalent to “taxpayer-funded abortions.” This is despite the fact that public employees pay for their health insurance with their own money, just as most employees do with employer-provided insurance. Even when there is a fight about such coverage most politicians at least agree such plans should include coverage for women seeking abortions in cases of rape, incest or to save their own lives.

In South Carolina, however, even in those rare, troubling cases some Republicans want to make sure abortion isn’t covered by the state’s health insurance plan. Yesterday a budget fight in South Carolina suddenly turned to whether the state’s insurance plan should cover abortions in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. For some Republican legislators, the only time abortion should be covered by insurance should be to save the life of the mother.

The Associated Press reports:

State Rep. Greg Delleney, a Chester Republican, said the change would only affect people covered by the state health insurance plan and he’d offer a measure that would allow for abortions when a mother’s health was threatened. But that’s as far as he would go. “We live in a civilized society,” Delleney said. “We do not kill children for what their fathers do. We don’t execute victims. That’s all we’re saying: The state insurance plan shouldn’t pay to execute victims.”

Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.

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The ban on abortion coverage had been passed by the House Ways and Means committee but failed on the full floor vote 57 to 54 after a heated debate.

“When you are that person that is pinned down in the back alley and raped; when you are that person that is actually assaulted sexually by your father – this is not a time for us to play political games. This is not the time for me to say my God is better than yours. This is a time to do what is right,” [Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg] said.

Speaking of budget fights and state insurance plans, men who work for the state government in Virginia will be pleased to know the state will not be eliminating coverage for Viagra.

Overall Tuesday seemed to have been a good day for female public employees everywhere because in Kalamazoo, Michigan their board of commissioners also rejected a resolution to ban abortion coverage from public employees’ insurance plans. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports:

Kalamazoo County employees and their families will still be able to get abortions paid for under the county’s health insurance plan.

In front of a packed crowd that was passionately divided on the issue, the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners voted 10-7 Tuesday to reject a resolution banning publicly funded abortions.

The 17-member board, which has nine Democrats and eight Republicans, voted largely along party lines. All Democrats voted against the measure, except for [Michael] Quinn.

All of the Republicans supported the resolution, except for David Maturen and Ann Nieuwenhuis.

“I want to apologize to the county employees,” said Nieuwenhuis, of Comstock Township. “I can’t believe we are having this conversation.”

Meanwhile while yesterday the Wake County, N.C board of commissioners voted to restore abortion coverage in their employees’ health insurance plans Republican House Representative Paul Stam said to expect a lawsuit. The Lincoln Tribune reports:

Republican House Leader Paul “Skip” Stam has a message for local governments that plan to keep funding elective abortions with taxpayer dollars: a lawsuit is coming.

Stam made the pledge minutes after the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted Monday along party lines to restore the county’s policy of covering medically unnecessary abortions in health care plans. Democrats on the board managed to reinstate the coverage after Commissioner Harold Webb, at home recovering from a stroke, phoned in his vote.

Of course when and where that lawsuit will be filed is a “tactical question” for the lawyers Stam said.

In other news: a feminist organization has started a campaign to let Polish women know they can come to the UK for free abortions. The Telegraph reports:

Posters and flyers picture a woman in her underwear with the words “My Choice” scrawled across her stomach in English. Around her is the information “plane ticket to England: special offer 300 zloty”, and “abortion in a public clinic: 0 zloty”.

At the foot of the poster is the slogan: “For everything you pay less than an underground abortion in Poland”.

SROM, a feminist organization, hopes the campaign will draw attention to so-called “abortion tourism”, a practice that pro-choice groups claim has flourished since Poland introduced some of the most stringent laws governing abortion in Europe 17 years ago. With the UK now possessing a huge Polish population that can provide a support network the country is now seen as a prime destination for pregnant women seeking a termination.

Bonus item: A bill in the Tennessee House would require clinics that provide abortions to post huge signs saying it’s illegal to coerce someone into having an abortion.

Here is the full text of what would be required on the sign:

“Notice: It is against the law for anyone, regardless of the person’s relationship to you, to coerce you to have an abortion. By law, we cannot perform an abortion on you unless we have your freely given and voluntary consent. It is against the law to perform an abortion on you against your will. You have the right to contact any local or state law enforcement agency to receive protection from any actual or threatened criminal offense to coerce an abortion.”

March 17, 2010

SC legislators reject rape, incest abortion ban Forbes

Catholic Bishops Renew Criticism of Abortion Restrictions New York Times (blog)

Health bill’s abortion fight is much ado about little difference Washington Post

Perriello: Senate bill won’t fund abortions

Atlanta activist says abortion is a racial issue Knoxville News Sentinel

Stam: Lawsuit Coming Over Health Plan Abortions The Lincoln Tribune

Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners reject abortion resolution on Tuesday Kalamazoo Gazette

Birth control won’t be in G8 plan to protect mothers, Tories say Globe and Mail

Catholic charity wins gay adoption ruling Reuters UK

March 16, 2010

Lawmakers expected to push to rewrite Kansas law on late-term abortions Kansas City Star

Polish women encouraged to come to UK for ‘free abortions’ on NHS

Voter initiative on abortion survives legal challenge Anchorage Daily News

Evidence skirmish could delay end of Prop 8 trial The Associated Press

Bill to require places that perform abortions in Tenn. to post anti-coercion signs WHNT

Surgical abortion hiatus spurs claim Columbia Daily Tribune

Giving women a morning-after pill stash ‘doesn’t work’ BBC News

Abortion is never a right, affirms Spanish bishop Catholic News Agency

Argentina: 15-year-old girl denied abortion after being raped by step father Amnesty International UK

Va. will restore aid for erectile dysfunction Washington Post

Pa. Senate panel tables bill to ban gay marriage Philadelphia Inquirer

HIV/AIDS patients struggle to afford medications without state program