AUSTIN, Texas (CNS) — Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed a bill into law Aug. 15 that limits insurance coverage for abortion procedures.
The measure passed both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature during a special session that Abbott ordered lawmakers to hold to address several issues.
Under the new law, Texans “will not be forced” to pay for elective abortions through their insurance plans. Its supporters say it is an important part of Abbott’s pro-life agenda. When the law takes effect Dec. 1, Texas will become the 11th state to restrict abortion coverage in insurance plans.
“As a firm believer in Texas values I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child,” Abbott said in a statement. “This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policyholders to subsidize elective abortions. I am grateful to the Texas Legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session.”
Abbott also signed a measure to expand reporting requirements for complications resulting from abortion procedures. “The health and safety of women is of the utmost importance, and we must have the most accurate data available in order to create good policy,” he said.
Democrats and other supporters of legal abortion said restricting insurance coverage of abortion forces people to buy “rape insurance.” They vowed to fight the law in court.
There are no exceptions in the law for instances of fetal abnormalities, rape or incest. Women have to buy an additional insurance premium if they want their health plan to cover abortions performed outside of medical emergencies.
“The Texas Legislature recognizes that killing an unborn child is not health care and, thus, should not be included in health insurance coverage,” said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
“Texas is blessed to have lawmakers and a governor who understand the difference between serving the public and killing the public,” the priest added in his statement.
In Oregon, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill that provides free abortions for all, including those in the country illegally. It requires health insurers to cover abortion on demand. The new law increases state spending by $10.2 million to provide free coverage of exams, drugs, devices and abortions and other procedures.
Calling state lawmakers “intolerant of widely held opposing views” and religious beliefs, the Oregon Catholic Conference denounced the measure when it passed in the Legislature in early July.
Noting the Senate approved the bill the day after Independence Day, the conference said the legislation “has more to do with force than it does with freedom.”
The state’s Catholic bishops had urged a veto, saying the measure forced “all Oregon taxpayers to help finance an extremist abortion agenda that does not enjoy majority support.”