A bill requiring Texas women to pay a separate health insurance premium to get coverage for non-emergency abortions — what opponents have dubbed "rape insurance" — is close to becoming law.
The Senate gave early approval to House Bill 214, which requires women to pay an additional insurance premium if they want their health plan to cover abortions performed outside of medical emergencies. It does not include exceptions for instances of fetal abnormalities, rape or incest.
The measure, which passed on a 20-10 vote, is one of Gov. Greg Abbott's three abortion-related priorities for the special legislative session. After final approval in the Senate, it will go to Abbott for his consideration. (Update, Aug. 13: The bill passed the Senate and now goes to the governor's desk.)
A second abortion bill, which requires physicians and health care facilities to report more details about abortion complications to the state, cleared both chambers Friday.
Republicans who support the bill said opponents of abortion should not have to subsidize the procedure through their insurance plans.
"This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion,” state Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, the bill's author, said during the debate in the House.
As they did when a similar measure passed the Senate earlier in the session, Democrats attempted to amend the bill to include exceptions for fetal abnormalities, rape and incest. They said that no woman can anticipate needing to have an abortion, and that the measure would hurt low-income women the most.
"No woman plans to have an abortion and certainly no one can plan to be raped, no woman can plan to be sexually assaulted by someone she knows in her own family," said state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, adding that the bill would force women to buy insurance against incest and rape.
Shannon Najmabadi contributed reporting to this story.