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Assembly Approves Ban On Abortion Coverage In State Employee Health Plans

Bill Now Moves To The State Senate

Wisconsin state Capitol
JeromeG111 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The GOP-controlled state Assembly has approved a bill that would prohibit state workers’ health insurance plans from covering abortions, except in specific circumstances.

Under the proposal, the Group Insurance Board, which offers health insurance for state employees, would be barred from providing insurance that covers abortion procedures, except abortions that result from rape, incest, or are deemed medically necessary to save the life of the mother.

“The government should not force taxpayers to fund the killing of pre-born children,” said Rep. Andre Jacque, R-DePere, the bill’s sponsor. “Abortion is not health care.”

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The Assembly passed the bill Thursday with a vote of 61-35.

The state already bars abortions funded by the state’s Medicaid program, BadgerCare and through any Affordable Care Act health insurance plans sold on the state marketplace.

Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Right to Life and Wisconsin Family Action all support the bill.

Opponents to the measure argued abortions should be available to women who have been told they will miscarry or are facing other pregnancy complications.

“This is just a brutal, cruel bill, because it’s going to have devastating consequences on women and families who are experiencing the biggest tragedies of their lives,” said Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison.

During debate, Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb, spoke about her own choice to get an abortion after being told she would miscarry.

“Just because you’re an elected legislator does not make you God,” Pope said. “You don’t know every situation, you don’t know every circumstance.”

The Wisconsin Medical Society is also opposed to the bill, arguing the Group Insurance Board should be able to make its own decisions about health care coverage, without restriction.

The bill has yet to be heard in the state Senate.

Editor’s Note: This story was last updated at 4:27 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, with original reporting from WPR.