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Ohio Bill Would Ban Insurance Coverage of Most Abortions and Contraception

Emily Crockett

HB 351 would prohibit insurance policies from covering abortions except in the case of ectopic pregnancies, and could effectively ban coverage of birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and emergency contraception.

A bill introduced Wednesday in the Ohio legislature would ban both public and private insurance providers from covering almost all abortions, and potentially many forms of contraception.

Introduced by state Rep. John Becker (R-Union Township), HB 351 would prohibit any insurance policy in the state from covering abortions except in cases of ectopic, or tubal, pregnancies. Termination of any other life-threatening pregnancies, and pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, would not be covered. Public hospitals would also be banned from performing any abortions except those resulting from ectopic pregnancies.

The bill’s definition of “abortion services” also includes “drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum,” which could effectively ban coverage of birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and emergency contraception.

“So much about this bill is troubling,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told Rewire. “They’re trying to redefine what a therapeutic abortion is. … There are a lot of other things that can go wrong in a pregnancy that can endanger a woman’s life.” (A therapeutic abortion is one performed to save the life or preserve the health of the pregnant person.)

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Copeland noted that most of the best OB-GYNs who deal with high-risk pregnancies work in public hospitals, dealing another blow to women whose lives could be in danger from their pregnancies.

Victims of rape or incest would be forced to pay out-of-pocket for their abortions under the bill, and they would have to find a private hospital willing to perform the procedure.

Currently in Ohio, private insurers can offer coverage for both therapeutic and elective abortions. Medicaid recipients, government employees, and other women insured by the state government only receive coverage for abortions in cases of rape or incest and life endangerment.

Rep. Becker has also co-sponsored bills to cut back Medicaid funding and ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

“[State legislators] are turning their backs on women who have the most dire need of abortion care, and at the same time jeopardizing access to contraception,” Copeland said. “They’re revealing their true agenda on women’s health.”

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