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Oklahoma Gov. Vetoes Health Insurance Exchange Abortion Ban

Image: adamr.stone under CC 3.0

In Oklahoma, conservative legislators have tried to prevent plans in the upcoming health insurance exchanges (set to launch in 2014) from offering abortion coverage in any of their plans in all but the strictest circumstances (to protect the life of the mother, rape, or incest). Several other states have done the same thing in the advent of healthcare reform, but the Oklahoma bill goes further by attempting to ban coverage in any policy sold in the state, whether or not it is part of the subsidized exchanges.

Democratic Governor Brad Henry vetoed the bill. Although abortion coverage would continue to be available through supplemental health insurance plans, that has little practical use–very few people plan in advance that they will terminate a pregnancy.

According to Henry, the bill becoming law would create an expensive legal headache for the state, as well as unfairly penalizing women who fail to report a crime in time. However, the national healthcare reform law allows states to create their own additional regulations on the exchange markets, so removing abortion services from Oklahoma health insurance options would probably be legal.

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