April 2, 2013 — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is considering using his executive powers to bar state employee health insurance plans from offering abortion coverage, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The move comes after the state House failed to advance a Senate-approved bill (HB 246) on the issue before the end of its legislative session.
According to the Journal-Constitution, Deal's office is determining whether the governor's executive powers give him the authority to make such a change. The policy likely would include an exception for cases when a woman's life is in danger.
Georgia's State Health Benefit Plan covers about 650,000 retirees, current workers and dependents. In 2011, 366 beneficiaries sought abortions, compared with 545 in 2009. The plan paid $213,000 for abortion care in 2011, down from $343,000 in 2009.
Nikema Williams, vice president for public policy at Planned Parenthood Southeast, urged Deal "to focus on the economy, job creation and preventive health initiatives instead of measures that would eliminate health insurance benefits for women making very private, complex medical decisions" (Bluestein/Torres, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/29).