Anti-Abortion Activists Harness States’ Health Policies - Health - Health Care
“Bans like this will take coverage away from women. Women are going to lose benefits they currently have,” Borchelt said. “We are very, very concerned that women are losing access to these benefits and concerned that politicians are stepping in and interfering with a woman’s ability to make her own health care decisions.”
No federal funds
Most of the states allow insurance to pay for abortions with certain exceptions, such as when the mother’s life is at risk, and some in the case of rape or incest.
Federal law already forbids the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. Federal money will be used to subsidize coverage for millions of people expected to sign up on the health insurance exchanges, and so it could not be used to pay for abortions.
“The law maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions that govern abortion policy, which prohibit federal funds from being used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), and extends those restrictions to the newly created health insurance exchanges,” the National Conference of State Legislatures says in a statement on its website.
“The new health reform law also maintains federal ‘conscience’ protections for health care providers who object to performing abortion or sterilization procedures that conflict with their beliefs.”
Abortion opponents say they don’t want their tax dollars being used for abortions. Harned said some of the draft legislation is also meant to prevent people who have private insurance from indirectly paying for other people’s abortions.
Arkansas state senator Cecile Bledsoe, who helped usher through her state’s legislation, has said the states need to provide some structure.
“Without this law, those who are responsible for setting up our health care exchanges will be left without clear guidance from the legislature about how to deal with abortion as they deal with the recently passed federal health care law,” Bledsoe told the Associated Press as saying. She did not immediately return requests for comment from NBC News.
Dana Singiser, vice president for public policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the moves to block coverage on the exchanges were part of a larger anti-abortion strategy that relies on state law. “Our opponents have not seen much success at the federal level and they are turning to the state legislatures as an alternative strategy,” Singiser said in a telephone interview.
Borchelt said groups like hers that support access to abortion are lobbying in the states that don’t have laws on the books. “We are certainly working very hard in states that are considering these bans to try and stop them from moving forward,” she said.
Georgia and New Jersey are among states considering measures. “It’s important for states to act now,” Harned said.
Costs going up
The laws, along with measures that make it more difficult for abortion clinics to operate, requiring multiple visits to providers before a woman may get an abortion or mandating extra examinations such as ultrasounds, are all making it harder for women to get abortions, Borchelt said.
“Sometimes because a woman has to have a waiting period or has to get informed consent, which requires several trips, the procedure is getting pushed back later and later and so the cost of an abortion is going up,” Borchelt said.
Nash said a simple early-term abortion costs about $450, but this cost goes up greatly for a later-term abortion. Women who discover late in pregnancy that a fetus is malformed or whose own lives or health are at stake may have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket for an abortion in states that ban all insurance coverage, she said.
But many women already pay out of their own pockets for abortions, even if they have insurance coverage, Nash added. “They are afraid their employers may find out they had abortions. They are afraid their spouse will find out they had an abortion,” she said.
Abortion rates have been falling in recent years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 784,507 legal induced abortions were reported in 2009 from 48 reporting areas. About 22 percent of pregnancies ended in deliberate abortion.
An NBC/Wall Street Journalpollreleased last month found that 70 percent of Americans oppose efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortions legal in the United States.