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Ga. Senators Approve Measure Prohibiting State Employee Health Plans From Covering Abortion

Ga. Senators Approve Measure Prohibiting State Employee Health Plans From Covering Abortion

March 27, 2013 — The Georgia Senate on Monday voted 34-15 to approve a bill (HB 246) that contains an amendment barring state employee health insurance plans from offering abortion coverage, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's "Political Insider" reports (Galloway, "Political Insider," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/25).

The amendment -- by state Sen. Judson Hill (R) -- was added to a routine bill that would allow the Georgia World Congress Center to offer employees a flexible health benefit plan. Hill's original amendment would have prohibited insurance coverage of abortions without exceptions (Henry, Atlanta Magazine, 3/25).

However, shortly after Hill introduced his measure, state Sen. Mike Crane (R) and Senate Health and Human Services Chair Renee Unterman (R) offered a secondary amendment to create an exception in cases to save the life of the pregnant woman ("Political Insider," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/25).

The bill now goes to the state House, which has two days left in the legislative session, to either approve or reject the Senate's changes.

Reaction

Mike Griffin -- vice president of the Georgia Right to Life -- said, "This legislation doesn't say that it's not possible for them to have abortion coverage, they just have to pay for it themselves." He noted that in 2011 the state health benefit plan paid for 366 abortions at a cost of nearly $213,000.

However, Cathy Woolard, who lobbies for Planned Parenthood, said the measure, which will affect 250,000 state employees and their families, was not given a hearing in committee.

"There are many cases where women have complications in their pregnancies that require an abortion that's quite expensive," Woolard said (Parrish, wsbradio, 3/26).