MAP: The Republican Crusade to End Insurance Coverage of Abortion

Mother Jones

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Last week, the GOP-led House of Representatives passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that would radically limit Americans’ ability to buy private-sector health insurance that covers abortion. With the Senate under Democratic control and Barack Obama in the White House, the bill is doomed to fail. But abortion foes can rest easy. Although their momentum has stalled on Capitol Hill, there is a quiet campaign underway in states across the country to outlaw private-insurance coverage of abortion—and it’s working.

Lawmakers in 24 states have already prohibited plans on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces from covering abortion. Now some states are going even further, targeting the tens of millions of women who receive health insurance from their private-sector employers. Nine states already have these broader bans, leaving 3.5 million women without insurance coverage for abortion. And since 2011, lawmakers in 10 more states have threatened the coverage of more than 9 million women, according to data assembled by the National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit legal foundation focused on women’s rights.

Five states—Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, and Oklahoma—have prohibited private insurers from covering abortion for years. (The oldest ban, in North Dakota, dates back to 1979.) But the 2010 elections, which swept Republicans into power in state governments around the country, renewed interest in passing these bans. And since 2010, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, and Utah all have passed new laws banning private insurers from covering abortions.

From 2011 to 2013, lawmakers in another 10 states—Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia—introduced bans on private-insurance abortion coverage, with many coming extremely close to passage, according to Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion-rights think tank.

Now, just four weeks into the new year, lawmakers in Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia are slated to consider new bills to eliminate abortion coverage from every insurance policy in the state, putting almost 2 million more women at risk of losing coverage for abortion. (That’s according to estimates by the National Women’s Law Center, which calculated how many women of reproductive age are insured through the workplace in each state.)

The millions of women who now face having to pay for abortions out of pocket will find the procedures don’t come cheap. A May 2013 study from the Guttmacher Institute found that for women whose abortions weren’t fully covered by their insurance, an abortion cost an average of $485. Half of the women who were unable to rely on insurance to pay for their abortions—either because they didn’t have it or it didn’t cover abortions—ultimately found it difficult to pay. Large numbers of those women put off paying their rent or utilities or cut back on buying food in order to afford the procedure.

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MAP: The Republican Crusade to End Insurance Coverage of Abortion

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