Senate committee hears bill limiting abortion coverage under Affordable Care Act

Eleanor Dearman

The Senate State Affairs Committee heard a bill Monday that, if passed, would remove abortion coverage from the Affordable Care Act. 

The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” is a federally mandated insurance policy that aims to offer affordable insurance options for users. Texas operates under the plan’s federal mandate, which allows the state to set its policy on abortion coverage. 

“This bill is not a ban on elective abortions,” Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) said. “In fact, this bill is all about choice. Under this bill, you can choose to pay for abortions, or you can choose to not pay for the abortions of others.” 

SB 575 would limit abortion coverage to medical emergencies when a “life-threatening physical condition exists.” Those who desire an abortion could attain coverage for the procedure from supplemental providers, according to Taylor. 

Jennifer Allmon, a representative from the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, said the bill prevents the subsidizing of abortion coverage by those who disagree with it. 

“The issue here is that those of us who strongly disagree with [abortion] should not be forced to provide coverage for that,” Allmon said. 

Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) questioned whether the bill would increase costs for women purchasing independent coverage.

“Is it correct to say then that the practical effect of this bill would be to make abortion uninsurable?” Zaffirini said. 

Removing abortion coverage from the Affordable Care Act in Texas would limit abortion options, according to Grace Chimene, a member of the League of Women Voters and a nurse practitioner. 

“Without health insurance coverage for abortion, many will be forced to turn to cheap, unsafe methods and providers — endangering their lives,” Chimene said.