If you thought the fight over the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage was big, wait till the battle turns to abortion coverage. A new front in the health care culture wars is forming in California, where two Catholic colleges attempted to drop abortion coverage from their official health insurance plans. Employees were allowed to purchase a supplemental plan that included abortion through a third party, and the colleges’ insurers cleared their plans with the state, but some employees still objected. In response to protests against the policy at the two universities, the state government reversed itself, via the AP:
Although the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage, the director of California’s Department of Managed Health Care said in a letter to seven insurance companies on Friday that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. The law in question requires such plans to encompass all “medically necessary” care.“Abortion is a basic health care service,” department director Michelle Rouillard wrote in the letter. “All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.”
It’s important to note here that we’re talking about elective abortions, not just ones done to save the life of mother or to forestall major health risks. Apparently the state of California thinks that elective abortions are “medically necessary” health care—even though the federal government does not require it to take that stance. If this decision stands, it will undoubtedly make its way through the court system, and spark a national uproar. We’ll be watching.