Editorial: PA Legislature Dishonestly Curbs the Right to Choose
By The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pennsylvania legislators have made another dent in women’s reproductive freedom.
House Bill 818, passed by the House in April and the Senate last week, is awaiting Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature, expected this week. It promises to prohibit health insurance plans offered through the Pennsylvania insurance exchange from covering abortions except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life.
The law will place low- and middle-income women faced with unplanned pregnancies in a double bind: They can either purchase insurance within the exchange and pay for an abortion out-of-pocket if ever they require one, or opt for an outside insurance plan. Both options are likely to be prohibitively expensive.
To rub salt in the wound, supporters of the bill would have voters believe that it is intended to ensure that tax dollars do not go toward abortions. But the Affordable Care Act already stipulates that taxpayer money not pay for abortions and requires women with health insurance obtained through state insurance exchanges to make separate payments to their providers for abortion coverage. Make no mistake: HB 818 is aimed not at protecting taxpayers from funding procedures that they oppose, but rather at impeding women’s access to a basic medical procedure. Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, rightly pointed out that the law only “restricts women’s right to spend their own money.”
Anti-choice legislators have also claimed that women insured through the exchange will be able to purchase insurance to fund abortions from outside providers, but this claim is wildly misleading because there are no such extant insurance plans. Moreover and most crucially, women cannot reasonably be expected to purchase separate coverage for abortion in advance of requiring one, as abortion by its very nature is used in unplanned, undesirable circumstances.
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