Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed a bill that will require Texas women to pay an extra health insurance premium for non-emergency abortions, one of three abortion-related items the governor placed on lawmakers' agendas for the special session.
The measure, House Bill 214, does not include exceptions for instances of fetal abnormalities, rape or incest.
"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 news release. “I am grateful to the Texas Legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session.”
While debating the new law, some Republicans had argued opponents of abortion shouldn't have to subsidize it through their insurance plans. Detractors countered that women can't anticipate needing the procedure, and dubbed the separate insurance now needed to cover non-emergency abortions "rape insurance." They also said the measure would hurt low-income women the most.
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“Women don’t plan to be raped. Parents don’t plan for their children to be victims of incest,” state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said during consideration of the law. “Asking a woman or a parent to foresee something like that and buy supplemental insurance to cover that horrific possibility is not only ridiculous, it is cruel.”
State Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, the bill's lead author, said, "This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion." He added it was necessary to prevent those with moral, religious and philosophical objections from having to pay for the procedure.
Abbott also signed a bill Tuesday that will require physicians and health care facilities to report more details about abortion complications, another of the governor's special session priorities.
Read related Tribune coverage:
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. [Full story]
Legislation finally began reaching Gov. Greg Abbott's desk on Friday — with five days left in the special session — but there's still much progress to be made on Abbott's 20-item agenda. [Full story]