ACLU-TN Urges Governor to Veto Legislation Restricting Abortion Coverage

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
April 29, 2010 12:00 am

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SB 2686/HB 2681 Interfere with Private, Personal Health Care Decisions


NASHVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN) late yesterday sent a letter to Governor Bredesen urging him to veto SB 2686/HB 2681, which would prevent any woman purchasing a qualified health plan through a state exchange from obtaining coverage for abortion. The legislation goes significantly further than longstanding rules against federal funding for abortion, which have traditionally permitted exceptions in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. SB 2686/HB 2681 would not permit coverage even under those extreme circumstances.

“A woman facing an unintended or difficult pregnancy should have the opportunity to make the best decision for herself and for her family, whether her decision is raising a child, adoption or abortion,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director. “It is not the place of politicians to interfere in a woman’s ability to make personal, private health care decisions.”

Under current law, Tennessee residents and employers are free to use their own dollars to purchase the insurance that best meets their medical needs. But SB 2686/HB 2681 would interfere with the insurance market by dictating to private insurance companies what benefits and coverage they can offer to their customers. Singling out one type of medical service for exclusion defeats the purpose of insurance coverage and shared risk.

In 2009, over 1.1 million, or 26 percent, of insured Tennesseans spent more than ten percent of their pre-tax income on health care.[1] Over seven percent of insured Tennesseans spent more than 25 percent of their pre-tax income on health care.[2] Should SB 2686/HB 2681 be signed into law, ACLU-TN warns, women and their families will be exposed to significant additional financial risk, amounting to thousands of dollars, should, for example, the woman need to terminate a pregnancy because of a severe fetal anomaly, because the fetus is not viable, or because her life or health is jeopardized by the pregnancy.

Weinberg states, “The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 already clearly prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion. These bills threaten Tennessee women’s ability to use their own private dollars to pay for safe and common medical procedures that are a part of basic health care. Politicians have no business meddling in personal transactions between women and their private insurance companies.”

A copy of ACLU-TN’s letter to Governor Bredesen can be found here:

[1] Families USA, Americans Face Rising Health Care Costs (New York: Families USA, 2009), (accessed April 28, 2010).
[2] Ibid.

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