Georgia is definitely on my mind. Or to be more precise, I’m worried about Georgia women. At every step, Georgia has resisted implementing provisions of the Affordable Care Act that would improve women’s health: The state has refused to expand Medicaid eligibility or establish its own state-run exchange. Georgia has, however, seized on a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows states to prohibit insurance coverage of abortion in exchanges set up in their state.
Last week Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 98 [PDF] — a measure that will severely limit women’s access to safe and affordable abortion by banning abortion coverage in state employee health plans and private plans offered through the federal exchange operating in Georgia.
Women who purchased health plans through the exchange will now be denied the abortion coverage they paid for except in cases of extreme medical emergency. The law prohibits coverage of abortion even in cases where a woman has become pregnant due to rape or incest or where there is a severe fetal anomaly.
Politicians also targeted state employees. SB 98 codifies a draconian administrative policy established last year that prohibits state employee plans from covering abortion except where abortion is necessary to avert the woman’s death. Now, it is the law of the land that Georgia’s teachers, police officers, and other civil servants will be denied abortion coverage even when they have been raped or when they need to end a pregnancy due to a serious illness.
Georgia has now become the 25th state to ban insurance coverage of abortion in plans offered through the health exchanges. This news comes just weeks after the Governor of Indiana signed a measure making Indiana the tenth state to prohibit all private plans in the state from offering a comprehensive plan that includes coverage of abortion. The map below paints the picture of just how dire the situation has become: With half the states banning insurance coverage of abortion in exchanges, women across the country are being denied access to critical care and the ability to make autonomous decisions about their reproductive health.