Due to current social and political discussions revolving around laws about contraceptives and abortion, the significance of newer pro-life and related legislation has become more relevant. Certain words such as insurance, healthcare, contraceptives, and abortion act as trigger words—words that stimulate a heavy debate or trigger an argumentative discussion on the subject of pro-life versus pro-choice. This moral issue has become a political one. Many Representatives and Senators today are taking a stand by promoting specific legislature that endeavors to uphold constitutional principles and the sanctity of human life.
Recent House and Senate bills are suggesting small but significant changes in current legislature. Some of these bills are making simple exceptions to new healthcare laws, some require women to have an exam by a physician before taking any abortion-inducing drugs, while all are seeking to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to something many taxpayers do not morally support.
In an effort to clarify and explain some of these new bills, I am summarizing two in order to help keep the public informed. An explanation of the bills and their purpose will help us to understand their significance in today’s debates.
I want to first address one of the house bills and its connotations.
By Representative Henry
February 7, 2012
Synopsis of Bill: Currently, the new federal health care reform law requires individual states to operate and maintain "health insurance exchanges." Health insurance plans offering abortion coverage are allowed to participate in a state's exchange and to receive federal subsidies unless the Legislature affirmatively opts out of offering these plans. This bill would specifically provide that the State of Alabama affirmatively opts out of allowing abortion coverage by exchange participating health plans. This bill would prohibit health insurance coverage of elective abortions unless the insured has paid additional monies for a separate rider.
This bill makes two important points:
“Federal funding of insurance plans that provide abortions is an unprecedented change in federal abortion funding policy. The Hyde Amendment, as passed each year in the Labor Health and Human Services Appropriations bill, and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, FEHBP, prohibit federal funds from subsidizing health insurance plans that provide abortions. Under this new law, however, exchange participating health insurance plans that provide abortions can receive federal funds. (section 1:2).
"The provision of federal funding for health insurance plans that provide abortion coverage is nothing short of taxpayer funded and government endorsed abortion.” (section 1:3).
An important provision in this bill is that: “The decision not to fund abortions places no governmental obstacle in the path of a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy.” (section 1:5).
While this provision may seem like a compromise, it may be necessary to take small steps in order to make big changes with regard to current laws.
Furthermore, “Citizens of the State of Alabama, like other Americans, oppose the use of public funds, both federal and state, to pay for abortions. For example, a January 2010 Quinnipiac poll showed that 7 in 10 Americans were opposed to provisions in federal health care reform that use federal funds to pay for abortions and abortion coverage.” (section 1:7).
“No health insurance contract, plan, or policy delivered or issued for delivery in Alabama shall provide coverage for abortions except when the life of the mother is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself. Insurance providers may offer abortion coverage through optional rider for which there must be paid an additional premium.” (section 3:a)
This is one bill among many others challenging the status quo in terms of abortion laws. If you are interested in learning more about this bill and others, you can visit this site to find out more about your legislature: http://www.legislature.state.al.us/index.html
If you want to look up specific bills and read through them, go to ALISON (Alabama Legislative Information System Online): http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/ACASLoginie.asp
A few other important House Bills are: HB223, HB493, and HB375. You can search for these at ALISON.
If you agree with or support one or more of these bills contact your legislator and/or representative and let them know! It is important for them to realize how many of their constituents agree with certain bills in order for them to represent you well. It is crucial for us to educate ourselves and to know what we support to really make a difference and stand up for what we believe in.
Cassie - Sav-A-Life Intern