Abortion opponents in a large number of states are taking advantage of the authority given to them by the Obamacare insurance exchange program to restrict access to abortions.
At least 21 states have adopted or are in the process of drafting legislation that will prevent health insurance providers in the exchange program from funding abortions, according to NBC News.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act requires states to establish health insurance exchanges, or online marketplaces, by October of this year to give residents a wider choice of coverage options. If the states choose to set up their own exchanges, instead of allowing the federal government to run them, they can write the rules, which could include certain restrictions on coverage.
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“Since the healthcare law was passed, because there is language in the law that says specifically that states can do this, states have taken it up,” Gretchen Borchelt of the National Women’s Law Center told NBC. “They said, ‘Hey, we can do this?’ ”
“It really spotlighted the issue for the states,” agreed Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research on reproductive issues.
Arkansas became the latest state to adopt such legislation earlier this week, while Kansas, Nebraska and Utah passed their own laws shortly after the health reform law was signed in 2010, according to NBC.
Under some of the laws, insurance companies that take part in the exchange program are not allowed to pay for abortions.
Similar bans have been implemented in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
“Bans like this will take coverage away from women. Women are going to lose benefits they currently have,“ said Borchelt. “We are very, very concerned that women are losing access to these benefits and concerned that politicians are stepping in and interfering with a woman’s ability to make her own healthcare decisions.”
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