Texas governor signs bill to limit insurance coverage for abortions

FILE PHOTO: The Texas capitol building, crafted from pink granite, is seen in Austin, Texas September 19, 2012. REUTERS/Julia Robinson/File Photo

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The Republican governor of Texas signed into law on Tuesday a measure that will restrict insurance coverage for abortions, compelling women to buy a supplemental plan if they want coverage for the procedure.

Governor Greg Abbott said the measure known as House Bill 214 would protect abortion opponents from subsidizing the procedure. Democratic critics decried it as forcing people to buy “rape insurance.”

Texas, the most-populous Republican-controlled state, has been at the forefront in enacting abortion restrictions, with many of its measures followed by other socially conservative states. But when HB 214 goes into law on Dec. 1, Texas will be the 11th state to restrict abortion coverage in private insurance plans written in the state.

“As a firm believer in Texas values, I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child,” Abbott said in a statement.

The Republican sponsor of a Senate bill on abortion insurance restriction, Brandon Creighton, has told local media supplemental coverage would cost $12 to $80 a year.

House Bill 214, which passed both chambers this month, mostly on a party-line vote, does not offer exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Abortion rights groups said they plan a court fight to prevent it from becoming law.

“By signing HB 214 into law, Governor Abbott has told women and parents they must pay extra for what is tantamount to ‘rape insurance,’” Democratic Representative Chris Turner, who opposed the bill, said on Tuesday.

There are 25 states with restrictions on abortion coverage in plans set up by state exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act under former Democratic President Barack Obama, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks such legislation.

Also on Tuesday, Abbott signed another measure that expands reporting requirements for complications arising from abortions.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Edited by Colleen Jenkins and Sandra Maler