Indiana Governor Signs Abortion Insurance Coverage Ban

Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a ban on private insurance coverage of most abortion care in the state last week.

HB 1123 makes Indiana the tenth state to ban private insurance coverage of abortion. It allows the purchase of a separate “rider” at additional cost to cover abortion care, although as seen recently in Michigan, there is no guarantee that such riders will be available to all who may wish to purchase them.

The new law includes exceptions for rape, incest, and threats to the life or “major bodily function” of the pregnant woman, but does not include an exception for fetal anomalies or mental health issues. Michigan’s law came under fire from opponents for requiring women to buy “rape insurance,” since it did not provide exceptions for rape or incest.

Women seeking an abortion, regardless of the reason, face significant costs without insurance coverage, and sometimes forgo other necessities like rent or utilities to pay for the procedure. Critics argue that these kinds of coverage bans discriminate against poor women, forcing them alone to risk losing their protected right to an abortion due to lack of funds.

An earlier version of the bill also made an exception for student health plans in the state, but that language was removed.

The governor also signed into law SB 292, which “changed pretty dramatically from its introduced form to what was actually passed,” Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, told RH Reality Check. “That’s a positive. I have to give great credit to the leadership, specifically to the senate and house health committee chairs, for demonstrating that everybody hasn’t forgotten how laws get made appropriately.”

In its original form, SB 292 would have made public the names of “backup” doctors who provide abortion clinics with admitting privileges required by law. That, pro-choice advocates feared, could put those doctors in danger because of the aggressive and sometimes violent protest activity against Indiana abortion providers and advocates.

“Regardless of how people feel about the issue of choice, most people do not think it’s OK for these protesters to behave the way that they do,” Cockrum said. “[Legislators] understood that it’s imperative that these doctors, and/or backup doctors, are protected from that kind of behavior.”

In its amended form, the bill merely requires that admitting privileges be documented in writing, which is usually already the case. But Cockrum said that the bill still adds more big government regulations to an already over-regulated medical procedure. “So even while we worked very diligently to get the bill into the form that it’s in, it was unnecessary and we opposed it,” she said.

Cockrum noted that fewer anti-choice bills than usual moved through the legislature this year because more attention was focused on a failed attempt to enshrine a ban on same-sex marriages and civil unions alike into the state constitution.

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  • Bec

    So as a non American, this really confuses me, how is it legal to ban PRIVATE insurance from covering a certain procedure?

    • Shan

      Good question. Maybe ask the Republican legislatures this: How can you make it illegal for a private business to sell a legal product/service they WANT to sell and yet also make it legal for private businesses to refuse to sell things they DON’T want to?

  • Mindy McIndy

    Another day, another legislator making it even harder for women to have abortions, especially the much needed ones. My goodness, I cannot wait until me and the missus move to Ontario in 2016.

  • fiona64

    Another (male) legislator practicing medicine without a license.

  • Ivy Mike

    I’d really like to hear one of our resident trolls defend this legislation. I really want to hear what they consider justification for this blatant interference in their beloved “free market”.

  • John of Indiana

    I was afraid this kind of crap was going to happen under Pence. But he’s the one the “good christian conservatives” of Indiana “Honest to Goodness” wanted, not that guy with the big mustache like Joe Stalin had… I hate this state. Smart people stay home from the polls for some reason and THIS is the kind of moron ideologue we get stuck with.

  • blfdjlj

    A government small enough to fit into your uterus.