Ohio lawmakers held a hearing on a bill Tuesday that would prohibit health insurance plans in the state from covering abortion even if a woman's life is in danger, as well as some popular forms of birth control, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
House Bill 351 prevents insurance policies in Ohio from covering any "abortion services," including drugs and devices "used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum." The bill makes an exception for ectopic pregnancies but has no exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother.
The sponsor of the Ohio bill, Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati), said the bill should not ban insurance plans from covering the regular birth control pill, but should ban coverage of the intrauterine device, an increasingly popular long-acting form of birth control that is implanted in the uterus and can prevent pregnancy for as long as five to 10 years.
Becker said he believes IUDs are the same as abortion. “This is just a personal view," he said at the hearing, according to The Columbus Dispatch. "I’m not a medical doctor."
Scientists generally agree that emergency contraception and the IUD work to prevent pregnancy by preventing the sperm from fertilizing the egg. They are 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy for as long as five to 10 years. But religious groups and many anti-abortion activists believe those methods prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and are therefore equivalent to an abortion.
If Ohio bans the insurance coverage of emergency contraception and IUDs, it will violate a rule in the Affordable Care Act that requires most insurance plans to cover the full range of contraceptives at no out-of-pocket cost to women. The ban would hit lower-income women the hardest, because the cost of implanting an IUD without insurance runs anywhere from $500 to $1000.
“Every day in this state, women face the complex decision of whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child,” said Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. “When they need guidance, women turn to their family members, their faith leaders and their health-care providers. They don’t turn to their legislators. Politicians have no place in this decision-making process, and that includes using financial restrictions to force a woman’s decision.”