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Texas Considers a Bill Banning Insurance Coverage of Abortion

Texans are a competitive group, but lately Texas politicians are seeking a record no one should want—the worst state for women. Right now, Texas is ranked among the six worst states for women but if Texas politicians have their way, it may soon be the worst. Thanks to budget cuts and abortion restrictions, Texans already have a hard time accessing reproductive health care—from cervical cancer screenings to abortion. Now, the Texas House is set to vote on SB 575, an extreme coverage ban that would prevent all private insurance plans in the state from providing coverage of abortion as part of a comprehensive health plan. If this bill passes it will make it even harder for women in Texas to get an abortion.

Imposing Financial Barriers that Endanger Women’s Health

Currently, insurance companies in Texas can cover abortion as part of a comprehensive insurance plan. In the absence of any ban, most private plans do provide coverage. But SB 575 will take that coverage away from many women and leave them to shoulder the cost of abortion alone. Read more »

Texas Activist Speaks About Proposed Abortion Restrictions

In Texas, a new bill would make it even harder for pregnant minors to get an abortion by adding extra barriers to an already burdensome process. In the following blog post, Emily Rooke-Ley from Jane's Due Process, an organization that provides legal representation to  pregnant minors in Texas, tells us first-hand how these unnecessary and dangerous hoops would harm Texas adolescents:

Texas Legislators Are Putting Pregnant Teens in Harm's Way

by Emily Rooke-Ley, cross-posted from RH Reality Check

I remember my first time answering the hotline for Jane’s Due Process, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation for pregnant minors in Texas. Holding back tears, I listened anxiously to a young woman, whom I will call Gaby, explain her home life and her pregnancy, asking me to help her obtain a judicial bypass, which would allow her to obtain an abortion without a parent or guardian’s consent. She was just as mature as I am—probably more. “Well the thing is,” she said to me, her voice exuding a kind of tough conviction, “I just can’t bring a baby into this world right now.”  Read more »

Surprise! Slashing Funding Limits Reproductive Health Care Access

The Texas Evaluation Policy project released a new study [PDF] finding that many Texas women struggle to access and pay for reproductive health care, including cervical cancer screening and birth control. The researchers looked at women’s access to reproductive health care, beginning in 2011 when the Texas legislature slashed state funding for family planning and rejected federal funding for the women’s health program. Since 2011, 76 women’s health clinics have closed, leaving many women without nearby care. Read more »

Abortion Coverage Ban Would Harm Texas Women

Once again, Texas politicians are trying to make it harder for women to access abortion. Today, the Texas House State Affairs Committee will hear testimony regarding HB 3130 which would prohibit health insurance plans sold in the marketplace from covering abortion, except when a woman’s life is in danger or to prevent “irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, other than a psychological or emotional condition.” 

This overly narrow exception ignores the real circumstances women face when deciding whether or not to continue a pregnancy. By denying women coverage for abortion, the bill cruelly punishes women by making it harder for them to access this needed health care service and will disproportionately harm lower-income women who may be unable to afford an abortion without insurance coverage.    Read more »

The One Mississippi Abortion Clinic Stays Open, But…

Good news - the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit just refused to reconsider a panel’s earlier decision to block a Mississippi law that would have closed the state’s only abortion clinic. The law required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and was meant to — and would have — forced the sole clinic in the state to shut its doors. But the panel said the law went too far and was unconstitutional — the full court’s decision not to rehear the case means that the clinic stays open. This is great news for Mississippi women who will continue to have access to abortion in their state.

But…. Read more »

U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Opportunity to Stand Up for Texas Women

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a devastating ruling Tuesday in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Abbott, refusing to block a law that is forcing one-third of Texas’ abortion clinics to stop offering vital services.

Back in July of 2013, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law H.B. 2, which, among other things, requires abortion providers to obtain unnecessary admitting privileges at local hospitals. Almost immediately, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union joined forces with a local Texas firm and filed a lawsuit on behalf of more than a dozen Texas health care providers and their patients.

The district court judge found the restriction both unconstitutional and unnecessary and prevented the restriction from going into effect. His ruling was a clear victory for Texas families, yet was almost immediately reversed by a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided that decreasing the number of physicians available to perform abortions and increasing the cost of abortions was not an “undue burden” on the women of Texas, and allowed the law to remain in effect while the matter is fully litigated in the courts. Read more »

Forward Progress on Accepting Federal Funds to Cover More People in Medicaid

Last night’s election results are in and it’s a game changer for women and families in Virginia. Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe made the state’s choice of whether or not to cover more people in the Medicaid program a central component of his platform and, last night, the effort to provide coverage for hard-working low-income Virginians just got a burst of momentum with a champion headed to the Governor’s office.

The Medicaid eligibility expansion is a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—and is a main component of the ACA’s strategy for achieving near-universal health coverage. States may accept federal funding to expand coverage through Medicaid to all qualified individuals under age 65 who have incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL), or about $32,500 for a family of four. Approximately 15 million uninsured Americans, including 7 million women, will be newly eligible for health coverage through Medicaid. Read more »

Texas Abortion Bill Sparks Outrage

On Friday, the Texas Senate passed sweeping anti-abortion restrictions, that unconstitutionally ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and will unnecessary require abortion clinics to meet the standards set for hospital style-surgical centers, among other provisions. The bill now awaits Gov. Rick Perry’s signature. Once signed, it will force most of Texas’ 42 abortion clinics to close. This is certainly a sad day for women’s health. Read more »

How Texas Lawmakers Tried to Pass A Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill – And Failed

Governor Rick Perry has called for yet another special session in an attempt to pass a sweeping abortion ban. In his words, because "Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn." What we’ve seen from Texas in the last week shows just the opposite: that Texans value a woman’s personal decisionmaking and don’t want politicians interfering. In light of his decision to try again to effectively outlaw abortion in Texas, it’s worth looking back on how concerned lawmakers and citizens were able to stop him so far. Read more »

Texans Stand Up for Women's Health

Congratulations to Texas lawmakers who stood up for women's health! State Senator Wendy Davis staged a 13 hour filibuster to stop legislation that would have effectively banned abortion in Texas. She was supported by other lawmakers, as well as hundreds of concerned citizens. They are a true lesson in democracy. When anti-abortion Texas legislators tried to subvert the democratic process and ram through a bill that would close clinics and take away women's access to abortion in Texas, these supporters of women's health stepped up. They turned their outrage into action, stopped a terrible bill from moving forward, and inspired a nation

While this victory in Texas is important to celebrate, there are two notes of caution. First, the fight in Texas might not be over. There could be another special session of the legislature, in which anti-abortion legislators try again to effectively ban abortion in the state. We must continue to stand with Texas women. 

Second, we must also remember that women in other states haven't fared so well this legislative session. Read more »