Until recently, insurance coverage for abortions was not only accepted, it was expected. It was assumed that if a woman needed an abortion, she could turn to her insurance provider as she would for any medical procedure. The insurance side of the abortion debate only became subject to controversy when President Obama put America’s health care policies under a microscope.
Since its introduction almost three years ago, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), often referred to as Obamacare, has managed to remain in the news almost constantly. This massive, perpetually contended legislation has introduced an astounding amount of legislative nightmares. Now, states having the right to ban insurance coverage for abortion can be added to that list.
“The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires states to set up health insurance marketplaces called exchanges by October of this year. Through exchanges, people who don’t have health insurance through the government or an employer can buy health insurance.
States that set up their own exchanges can set the rules for insurers who take part.” Due to exchanges, 21 states have passed legislation to stop insurance companies from covering abortions. In 8 states, no one can get a plan that covers the procedure.
The Hyde Amendment, a measure which denies abortion insurance coverage for poor women, Native Americans, and government employees has been cited by states as precedent for singling out abortion from other reproductive health procedures. The exclusion of abortion creates the impression that it is somehow worthy of special treatment under the law. Once an undisputed facet of women’s health, abortion is quickly becoming unavailable for large portions of the American population.
This is simply another blatant attempt to criminalize abortion. Politicians are disregarding public opinion and constitutional law for the purpose of imposing a subjective morality on their constituents. Laws banning insurance coverage for abortion are not reached by public consensus, but by a loophole in Obamacare. To claim these developments represent the will of the people is deceptive at best.
Localizing the decision of whether insurers can ban abortion does have one advantage. Increasing the voice of local politicians in creating abortion policy gives them a chance to stand up for women. The adverse impact of anti-choice policies is clear at the local level. Ideally, partisan politics will give way to rational choices when local representatives are making this decision not just for their constituents, but for their friends and neighbors.