Abortion and contraception coverage opt-out bill heads to Oklahoma Senate
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, February 22, 2013
2/22/13 at 7:32 AM
Read the Tulsa World continuing coverage of the health care law.
OKLAHOMA CITY - Employers in Oklahoma could opt not to include contraceptives and abortions in employee insurance plans under a measure that secured passage by a Senate committee Thursday.
The measure, Senate Bill 452 by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, passed the Senate Business and Commerce Committee by a vote of 9-0 with no debate and now heads to the full Senate.
"Notwithstanding any other provision of state or federal law, no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees," the bill says.
Under the federal Affordable Health Care Act, employee group insurance plans are required to cover contraception unless the business offering the benefit meets the conditions of being a religious organization, said Mike Rhoades, Oklahoma Insurance Department deputy commissioner of life and health insurance.
Jolley said the measure is the result of a request from a constituent, Dr. Dominic Pedulla, an Oklahoma City cardiologist who describes himself as a natural family planning medical consultant and women's health researcher.
Pedulla says he is morally against contraception and abortion. He said he had to give up his small group health plan because the only plans available in the state required coverage for contraception and sterilization. He and his family were on the plan and had to find more expensive insurance elsewhere.
"Every small group plan forces you to choose those options," Pedulla said.
Women are worse off with contraception because it suppresses and disables who they are, Pedulla said.
"Part of their identity is the potential to be a mother," Pedulla said. "They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn't bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies."
Studies show that women using contraceptives consider pregnancy more unwanted than wanted, he said.
Another Oklahoma City doctor, Eli Reshef, medical director of the Bennett Fertility Institute, noted that depriving women of contraception increases the likelihood of abortion.
"If one does not have access to contraceptives, unintended pregnancies can occur," and "with unintended pregnancies, abortions will increase," Reshef said. "Half of all unintended pregnancies will end up as an abortion."
Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma executive director, said that "by denying a woman access to contraceptive coverage and other insurance coverage dealing with reproductive health care, you make it that much more difficult for a woman to control her own economic future."
A law passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin two years ago prohibits routine insurance coverage for abortion unless it is necessary to save the life of the mother. Those who want elective abortions covered may purchase a separate insurance rider and pay for it with an additional premium.
Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life, supported the bill that led to that law but said Senate Bill 452 was not requested by his organization.
Consent for tanning: In unrelated action, the panel passed a measure that would require minors to obtain written consent from a parent or legal guardian before using a tanning device.
"Proof of age shall be satisfied with a driver license or other government issued identification containing the date of birth and a photograph of the individual," says Senate Bill 345 by Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada.
Paddack said the state is seeing an increase in the number of skin cancer cases.
Original Print Headline: Full Senate to consider abortion coverage bill
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Sen. Clark Jolley: His bill concerning contraceptives and abortion passed a Senate committee by a vote of 9-0 and now heads to the full Senate.