This year, Georgia lawmakers weren’t able to advance a measure that would have prevented the state’s 650,000 public employees from using their insurance plans to cover abortion services. It ended up failing to win enough votes to pass on the final day of the legislative session. But that isn’t stopping the state’s anti-choice officials from trying to force it through anyway.
Georgia’s Department of Community Health voted 5–3 on Thursday to approve a plan that will eliminate abortion coverage in public employees’ health plans — virtually the same measure the legislature rejected. The Augusta Chronicle reports that the abortion restrictions “surfaced as a surprise benefit change this week.”
After the insurance coverage ban failed, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) vowed to use his executive power to enact it anyway. Now, he seems to be getting his way. Deal praised the board’s vote, saying it will help ensure “that state taxpayers aren’t paying for a procedure that many find morally objectionable.”
State health boards — which are supposedly nonpartisan — are becoming increasingly politicized around the issue of reproductive rights, often enacting new abortion restrictions that elected officials can’t pass on their own. In Virginia, the health board passed controversial regulations on abortion clinics that are already forcing them to shut down. Ohio, which passed some of the most stringent anti-abortion measures in the country this past year, has been quietly stacking its medical board with prominent members of the state’s Right to Life chapter. In Iowa, the anti-choice governor spent the past two years replacing all ten members of the state’s medical board with abortion opponents — and now, they’re mulling over new rules that would threaten reproductive health access for rural women in the state.
Limiting insurance coverage for abortion is popular anti-choice tactic to segregate abortion services from the rest of women’s reproductive health care. It ultimately creates barriers to abortion access by making the procedure more expensive for the women who need it.