Health care reform promises to improve health care for Pennsylvanians, leading to greater access to care, not less. But some politicians in Harrisburg have their sights set on other goals. They are considering banning insurance plans in the state exchange from covering abortion care, with limited exceptions. These proposals are so extreme they would withhold coverage if a woman needs to end her pregnancy because it threatens her health.
These measures are a sinister extension of current law, which already withholds coverage for abortion from women who qualify for government-sponsored insurance programs, like Medicaid. Pennsylvania already withholds abortion coverage for some women just because they are poor -- and now some politicians want to extend that discriminatory policy to women in a slightly higher income bracket who otherwise would be able to purchase health coverage through the exchange.
Withholding insurance coverage for abortion is clearly a ploy to prohibit a woman from ending her pregnancy. Just last month, the Philadelphia Board of Health condemned this very injustice by unanimously passing a resolution asking the General Assembly to "reinstate insurance coverage for abortion care for every woman who needs it, regardless of the source of her insurance." Philadelphia had it right: it just makes sense for all insurance plans to cover all pregnancy-related care, including abortion care, regardless of whether they are paid for by individuals, employers or the government.
The General Assembly should heed the board's advice. We can't let abortion coverage be excluded from health benefits just because some politicians don't want women to have access to abortion. All insurance should cover a full range of medical procedures, including abortion, so a woman can make the best decision for her circumstances.
CEO, Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania