Senate Bill that protects insurance consumers from paying for abortion faces scheduling showdown

A bill that would protect Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance marketplace consumers from paying for unwanted abortion coverage faces hurdles as the clock runs out on the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature.

Senate Bill 575 by Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) was passed from the Senate, but the bill has been curtailed substantially by the house committee that passed the bill onto the House floor.  Originally the bill would have prevented all insurance plans – including private plans and those of state employees – from covering abortion unless a separate, supplemental plan for such coverage was purchased by the consumer.  However, as amended by the House Committee on State Affairs, the bill would only protect consumers who purchase plans through the Affordable Care Act. 

Nevertheless, the bill remains a crucial first step towards applying Pro-Life protections to elective abortion coverage in the health insurance market.  The bill protects the freedom of Texans to abide by their consciences when they do not wish to fund the abortions of others, as they are currently forced to do.  “Under this bill,” said Pro-Life Sen. Taylor, “Texans can choose to pay for abortions, or they can choose not to pay for the abortions of others.”  Sen. Taylor is a past honoree of Texas Right to Life, who has outspokenly defended both the rights of the preborn and those of Pro-Life Texas taxpayers.

SB 575 as amended by the House State Affairs Committee would prohibit all elective abortions from being covered by the premiums of plans purchased through the ACA marketplace, except those deemed necessary in cases of precisely defined medical emergencies.  In order for the legislation to be debated and voted on in the House of Representatives, the House Calendars Committee must schedule the bill for debate before midnight today, May 24th, 2015.