Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law this Tuesday to bar insurance companies from funding abortions with taxpayer money. The law applies to all elective abortions, exempting those rare instances of medical emergency, such as when the life of the mother is at risk.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced of the law and tweeted, “New law signed to ensure no Texan is required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child.”
In the official statement on his website, Abbott further explained, “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.”
“This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policyholders to subsidize elective abortions. I am grateful to the Texas Legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session,” the statement read.
The website further noted, “Under this new law Texans will not be forced to pay for elective abortions through their insurance plans. This legislation is an important piece of the Governor’s pro-life agenda that has been championed by Sen. Brandon Creighton and Rep. John Smithee this special session.”
However, not everyone is pleased with the outcome. A bloc of Texas Democrats sought to change the bill, and joined with Texas Sen. Sylvia Garcia to push an amendment. The Garcia Amendment would have added cases relating to fetal abnormalities, rape, and incest as an exemption to the law, however, the amendment failed. Garcia argued that, because of this law, women will now be required to purchase “rape insurance.” And that, “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.”
Republican Rep. John Smitthee, the author of the bill, responded to Garcia’s criticisms by clarifying that his bill – now law – does not actually ban abortion. Smithee’s bill merely removes the taxpayer from those who pay for the procedure, thus freeing Texans from being forced to fund something they are morally opposed to.
“What we’re saying here is: If you want to buy this coverage, you can buy it,” Smithee said during the House debate. “This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion.
What will be the next state to pass such a bill? Will Texas be the only one?