partlycloudy
Thursday August 17th, 2017 3:05PM

Texas Senate OKs restricting insurance coverage for abortion

By The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Republican-controlled Texas Senate backed a plan Saturday night to restrict insurance coverage for abortions, over the objections of opponents who expressed concern it could force some women to make heart-wrenching choices because no exceptions will be made in cases of rape and incest.

The 20-10 party-line vote for preliminary approval requires women to purchase extra insurance to cover abortions except amid medical emergencies. A final vote Sunday will see the measure clear the chamber, meaning it's now on a fast-track to Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign it into law.

Legislators debated other bills limiting insurance coverage for abortion during Texas' regular session that ended in May, but Abbott called a special session and revived the issue.

Ten states already have laws restricting insurance coverage of abortion in all private insurance plans: Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah. All make exceptions if the mother's life is endangered; only Indiana and Utah also make exceptions for rape and incest.

"Texas must take steps to prohibit taxpayer and premium dollars from subsidizing abortions that are not medically necessary," said Sen. Brandon Creighton, a Republican from Conroe, near Houston.

The bill passed the Texas House earlier this week. Both Creighton and its House sponsor, Republican Rep. John Smithee, said the rules only apply to "elective" abortions and promote "economic freedom" by not forcing Texas policyholders who object to the procedure to help pay for insurance coverage for women undergoing it.

"What we're saying here is: If you want to buy this coverage, you can buy it," Smithee, a Republican from Amarillo, said during House debate.

Outnumbered Democrats in both chambers dismissed the bill as purely political, arguing that insurance companies already cover only medically necessary abortions. They also said the law will require purchasing insurance plans that insurers won't actually offer because too few women will buy them, not knowing in advance that they will be undergoing abortions.

Sen. Sylvia Garcia, a Houston Democrat, said Saturday night that the bill would effectively require women to buy "rape insurance." She tried to include exceptions for rape and incest, but failed on a 20-10 vote.

"No woman plans to have an abortion and certainly no woman can plan to be raped, no woman can plan to be attacked by someone she knows in her own family," Garcia said. "Those are the most heinous of the heinous crimes."

Texas approved some of the nation's strictest limits on abortion in 2013, but those were mostly struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer. Still, abortion clinics around the state have closed and the number of abortions performed in the country's second-largest state has fallen from more than 82,000 in 2006 to around 54,300 in 2015.

"One of the talking points we've heard lately is abortion should be considered health care," Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life, told a Texas Senate committee. "Really, the definition of health care is to make a person well and to encourage health. The definition of a successful abortion is the complete death of the unborn child."

State policy analyst Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a national research group that supports abortion rights, said she knows of no current analysis of the impact of states imposing coverage restrictions, nor the extent to which health plans offer supplemental coverage for abortion.

"My sense is that there isn't any identifiable impact of these restrictions since most women pay out of pocket already," Nash said by email.

A Guttmacher analysis in March said about 60 percent of privately insured abortion patients pay out of pocket, because their policy doesn't cover the procedure or because deductibles are high. But many women who get abortions are too poor to afford private insurance.

Nancy Northup, president of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, depicted the insurance bans as "a shocking infringement" on women's right to opt for private insurance to cover a legal medical procedure. In cases where a woman opts for an abortion after detection of a severe fetal abnormality, the costs can run into the thousands of dollars, she said.

The insurance bans also have been criticized by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says insurance coverage of abortion should be comparable to that of other essential health care services.

___

Sign up for the AP's weekly newsletter showcasing our best reporting from the Midwest and Texas: http://apne.ws/2u1RMfv

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Kisner survives wild finish to take PGA lead
Kevin Kisner survived wild finish to take PGA Championship lead
8:11PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Officials: White nationalist rally linked to 3 deaths
A car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white supremacist rally in Virginia, killing one person and sending many more to hospitals
7:55PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Bolt takes a tumble and can't complete final race at worlds
Bolt takes a tumble and cannot complete final race at world championships
7:53PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Lawmaker seeks probe after AP reveals maggots in NY facility
AP Exclusive: A New York state lawmaker is seeking a federal investigation into facilities for the disabled after an Associated Press story revealed that a man was infested with maggots in a state-run group home
7:15PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Chopper crash linked to white nationalist rally
Officials say the deaths of two people in a helicopter crash near Charlottesville, Virginia, have been linked to a violent white nationalist rally earlier in the day
6:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Lawyer: Livestreamed, deadly crash caused by blown tire
The defense attorney for a teenage driver accused of driving drunk while livestreaming the crash that killed her younger sister says a mechanical problem may have caused the accident in California
6:03PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Submarine owner detained over journalist's disappearance
A Danish court has ordered the owner of an amateur-built submarine to be held in pre-trial detention for 24 days while police investigate the disappearance of a Swedish journalist who had been on the ship before it sank
3:18PM ( 5 hours ago )
Advocates stage first big Texas protest against border wall
Hundreds of people have marched in South Texas to oppose the wall the U.S. government wants to build on the river separating Texas and Mexico
2:39PM ( 6 hours ago )
Trump says he's open to military intervention in Venezuela
Trump leaves open possibility of military intervention in Venezuela as Pence prepares for 6-day tour of the region
1:32PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online National News
The Latest: Trump's remarks on clashes draw strong reactions
Trump's remarks about 'many sides' responsible for violence in Virginia draw strong reactions
6:45PM ( 1 hour ago )
Reactions to Trump's statement on violence in Virginia
Reactions to Trump's statement on violence in Charlottesville, Virginia
6:37PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump condemns hatred, bigotry 'on many sides'
Trump condemns "in the strongest possible terms" what he's calling an "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides"
4:01PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Chinese president speaks with Trump, urges calm
Chinese state media say President Xi Jinping, in a call with President Donald Trump, said all sides should avoid rhetoric or action that would worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
12:50AM ( 19 hours ago )
The Latest: Japan PM vows to protect people from missiles
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vows to do everything he can to protect the Japanese people as tensions escalate over North Korean plans to send missiles flying over Japan toward Guam.
11:56PM ( 20 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump threatens retaliation against North Korea
President Donald Trump has issued fresh threats of swift and forceful retaliation against nuclear North Korea, declaring the U.S. military "locked and loaded"
10:52PM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
After 30 years, museum gets stolen piece by modern master
Officials say a valuable painting from the University of Arizona Museum of Art has been recovered from New Mexico more than three decades after thieves first made off with the stolen piece
4:35PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Venezuela body sets October date for elections
Venezuela's newly installed constitutional assembly has decided to push up gubernatorial elections by two months to October, though many in the opposition see it as a false promise unlikely to ever materialize
3:48PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Mercosur opposes 'military option' on Venezuela
The South American trade bloc Mercosur is opposing U.S. President Donald Trump's suggestion of a possible "military option" to deal with the crisis in Venezuela
2:49PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business
DeVos say school vouchers part of tax overhaul discussions
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says the possibility of a federal tax credit school voucher program is "certainly part of our discussion" around a broader tax overhaul
5:01PM ( 1 day ago )
Investigator in Trump tax return case is taken into custody
A Louisiana private investigator accused of trying to illegally obtain Donald Trump's tax returns before last year's presidential election has been arrested again, this time being accused violating conditions of his pretrial release
12:18PM ( 1 day ago )
An array of different kinds of school voucher programs
An array of different kinds of school voucher programs
3:13AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Kisner survives wild finish to take PGA lead
Kevin Kisner survived wild finish to take PGA Championship lead
8:11PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Officials: White nationalist rally linked to 3 deaths
A car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white supremacist rally in Virginia, killing one person and sending many more to hospitals
7:55PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Bolt takes a tumble and can't complete final race at worlds
Bolt takes a tumble and cannot complete final race at world championships
7:53PM ( 47 minutes ago )
White House's Omarosa Manigault jeered during panel talk
White House official Omarosa Manigault-Newman clashed with a veteran news anchor during a panel discussion on policing in black communities held at the largest gathering of black journalists in the country
7:50PM ( 50 minutes ago )
The Latest: Kisner has PGA lead after wild finish
Kevin Kisner is the leader going into the final round of the PGA Championship after a wild finish at Quail Hollow
7:49PM ( 51 minutes ago )