Texas House OKs bill to block insurance coverage for abortions

The Texas House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday -- coined as “rape insurance” by its detractors -- that would force women to pay a separate health insurance premium to get covered for a non-emergency abortion.

The bill, which the House passed 95 to 51, now awaits a vote in the Senate. It does not make exceptions for abortions that follow rape, incest or fetal abnormalities.

The lead author, Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, defended the legislation, saying people who oppose abortion shouldn’t subsidize it through their health insurance plans, the Texas Tribune reported.

“This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion,” he said.

“This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion.”

- Texas state Rep. John Smithee

House Democrats sought to include exceptions for rape, incest and fetal abnormalities. They also tried to discard a provision preventing insurance companies from offering savings on supplemental health plans covering abortion.

But Republicans defeated all the suggested amendments.

Rep. Chris Turner, D-Fort Worth, claimed that asking women to get a supplemental abortion coverage plan amounts to deciding whether they wanted “rape insurance.”

“Women don’t plan to be raped. Parents don’t plan for their children to be victims of incest,” he said in the House chamber, the Tribune reported. “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.” 

Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, also slammed the bill, saying the measure was a political stunt because few insurance plans cover abortions in the first place.

“What you are trying to prevent doesn’t exist,” she told Smithee.

Smithee fired back that the measure was needed to protect people with moral, religious and other objections from subsidizing abortions, the Tribune reported.