Ohio House Committee Holds Hearing on Bill to Ban Health Insurance Coverage of Abortion

The Ohio house held a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would ban all health insurance coverage of abortion in the state. The bill, as written, also would ban coverage of some forms of birth control, which anti-choice lawmakers incorrectly argue are abortifacients.

Specifically, HB 351 would ban private health insurance companies from covering “abortion services” as well as coverage of abortion for public employees on the state’s health-care plan. The bill defines “abortion services” as any drug or device “used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum.” The ban does not include any exception for cases of rape or incest.

Sponsored by Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati), the bill is similar to a new law in neighboring Michigan, which bans private companies in the state from covering abortion as a standard feature of insurance plans. However, insurance companies may offer abortion coverage that can be purchased separately. The Michigan law also does not include an exception for victims of rape or incest.

During his testimony, Becker said that it was not his intent to ban coverage of birth control and suggested that an amendment could be added to the bill to clarify the language. However, Becker claimed that intrauterine devices (IUDs) should be included in the ban because he considers them a type of abortion, which they are not. “This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor,” Becker said.

This is similar to comments made in May by a Kansas county commissioner who likened IUDs to murder, as the commission voted to reject state funds to provide IUDs to low-income women in the county.

The proposed law also changes the definition of a “nontherapeutic abortion” to no longer exclude abortions that are performed when the a “life of the mother” would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term, or when the pregnancy is the “result of rape or incest.” Under the bill, the only exception would be for women “diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.”

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told RH Reality Check that if this bill became law the threat to women’s health would be difficult to overstate. “There’s a shocking disregard for what would happen to women if this were to pass,” said Copeland.

Copeland says that making abortion in cases of ectopic pregnancy the only exception to the law is “dangerous nonsense” that appears in legislation when “politicians try to play doctor.”

“What business do you have crafting legislation and trying to impose laws on women whose lives may depend on these services and on physicians and medical professionals?” Copeland said.

Stephanie Kight, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio president and CEO, questioned the logic of anti-choice politicians who oppose abortion, yet also seek to restrict access to birth control methods that prevent unintended pregnancies.

“Taking away a resource like insurance coverage is bad politics and bad policy,” said Kight in a statement released after the hearing. ”Politicians have no place in this decision-making process, and that includes using financial restrictions to force a woman’s decision.”

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  • fiona64

    I’m not a medical doctor

    Then you shouldn’t be trying to practice medicine without a license, now, should you, Mr. Becker?

  • Shan

    Jesus HMS Christ, this is worse than the Kansas ban on abortion coverage. At least in Kansas, there’s an exception for life-threatening pregnancies and they weren’t stupid enough to exclude IUDs or emergency contraception.

  • Renee Goodwin

    Geez you gotta be a sorry azz mean sob to be a GOP/TEA person, cause even my health insurance covers abortion in case of life threatening pregnancies.

  • L-dan

    Gonna start referring to these states as the United States of Gilead at this point.

    • Ramanusia

      Someone really needs to sit some of these folks down and explain to them that The Handmaid’s Tale is NOT a how-to manual.

  • purrtriarchy

    We really need to stop mis-characterizing pro lifers by pointing out that they oppose contraception and life/ health of the pregnant person exceptions. I mean, they are only doing thus to PROTECT WOMEN. They are the true feminists.

    • Sitara Singley

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Youre special! It is the forced birth movement that exploits women.

      • purrtriarchy


        • Sitara Singley

          Oh sorry. I forgot about Poe’s Law.

  • shy guy

    Nah…..see you have it all wrong……all we want to do is protect our religious freedoms…..we do not want people to have to do things against their deeply held religious beliefs…..

    Oh sorry did we forget to mention that part of our “religious freedoms” are making sure we have the religious freedoms to force our religion on everyone……..oppsies….sorry about that……

    What we really mean is we totally want to force EVERYONE to live and make decisions based on our interpretation of the Christian Bible and only the Christian Bible regardless of their religious beliefs…..US Constitution? No I am afraid there is not any mention of this US Constitution as you call it in the bible…….so it cannot have any validity in law or our religious freedoms……

  • Suba gunawardana

    Religious freedom = Freedom to use/abuse others under excuse of religion.

  • Terry FiveOs

    What happened to the conservatives who don’t want regulations on businesses? Now they want to not only tell women what to do with their bodies, they want to tell the insurance companies what to do. Hmmmm….government getting involved in healthcare. I thought they hated that?

  • Sitara Singley

    Pregnancy begins at implantation. Preventing implantation is a contraceptive act. Contraception is something that prevents conception. Conception is implantation. Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy. #knowyourscience

    • cjvg

      Ironic that you are claiming to know science!
      Contraception prevents ovulation.
      If there is no ovulation, then no egg is released.
      If there is no egg, there can be no conception!
      Basic high school biology, unless you are as ignorant as a box of rocks

  • TheBrett

    Ohio’s got some other bad anti-choice laws on the books. Any local Ohioans on why the anti-choice crowd is so strong there? Is it just that Republicans took over in recent elections?