Abortion-Rights Opponents Succeeding With State-Level Bans on Abortion Coverage

February 5, 2014 — Although a federal bill restricting abortion coverage is not expected to advance beyond the House, abortion-rights opponents have prohibited most health plans from offering such coverage in many states, Mother Jones reports.

Women whose health plans do not fully cover the procedure face average out-of-pocket costs of $485, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute. Women whose pregnancies threaten their lives face even higher costs, often including hospital stays, according to Gretchen Borchelt, state reproductive health policy director at the National Women's Law Center.

State lawmakers since 2011 have proposed legislation that would restrict abortion coverage for an estimated nine million women, according to data from NWLC.

Although some antiabortion-rights state lawmakers have suggested that women who want abortion coverage should purchase supplemental insurance riders to cover the procedure, Mother Jones found just one major insurer in the U.S. that sells such riders.

State-by-State Analysis

Twenty-four states have prohibited most abortion coverage in plans being sold through the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) insurance marketplaces, Mother Jones reports.

In nine states -- Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah -- all private health plans are barred from covering abortion, according to NWLC. In each of those states except Utah, there is no exemption if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

Ten other states -- Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia -- attempted similar bans from 2011 to 2013, according to Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at Guttmacher. Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia are scheduled this year to consider bans on all abortion coverage (Redden, Mother Jones, 2/4).