UAW Seeks Abortion Coverage in Autoworkers Health Plans

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 21, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

UAW Seeks Abortion Coverage in Autoworkers Health Plans

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 21, 2003

Detroit, MI ( — On the heels of AFCSME co-sponsoring a national pro-abortion march, another union is subjecting itself to criticism by backing abortion.

This time, the United Auto Workers (UAW), which is currently embroiled in contract negotiations with major U.S. automakers, has announced it is seeking to cover elective abortions in employee health insurance plans.

The request was made to request was made to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group, but was not know if Ford Motor Co. was asked to pay for abortions as well.

The issue was raised vaguely in the UAW’s initial proposals presented to the automakers in late July, according to the Detroit Free Press newspaper.

At Chrysler, the union asked the automaker to "expand benefits related to reproductive services." At GM, the UAW requested that "professional fees for elective pregnancy termination be covered."

According to those familiar with the negotiations, abortions would be covered in health plans both for current workers as well as retirees. Company officials say abortions are currently covered only in rare circumstances when "medically necessary."

Both sides acknowledge the abortion plan may never make it on paper and could be axed by either side during the contract talks. It is unclear how hard the union is pushing the issue.

Automakers may seek to drop abortion from the coverage. The contract negotiations come at a time when the companies are seeking to reduce costs and recover from down times in the economy.

The contracts with the auto companies cover 307,000 workers and 522,000 retirees, surviving spouses and dependents, and the current contract expires Sept. 14.

Requests for comments from to the automakers and the UAW were not returned.

Pro-life groups reacted with concern to the news.

Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing told, “This decision by the UAW to pursue abortion as a covered benefit is fraught with many perils for
the well-being of union workers, the union itself, GM and for innocent unborn children."

Listing said both sides should take a look at the damage abrotion does to women.

"With abortion, women’s health suffers, thus affecting corporate health care costs while prolife workers are compelled to contribute toward something to which they morally reject.," Listing added.

The group also cited potential legal problems.

Since the insurance coverage extends to dependant children, teenage girls could use the health plan to obtain abortions without parental involvement, RLM said in a statement.

Meanwile, Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, which has 5,000 members in the industrial midwest, plans a picket outside of UAW Solidarity House in Detroit within the next few weeks. If any automaker agreed to cover abortions, she said, "It could be a dangerous precedent."

Miller also was planning to contact UAW members who oppose abortion in an attempt to derail the proposal.

Polls show union members don’t want their funds to be used to fund insurance coverage for abortions.

In 1990, when abortion advocates were pressing the AFL-CIO to take a formal position on abortion, polls showed that 77 percent of union households believed the AFL-CIO should remain neutral.

ACTION: Take time to contact the UAW and automakers to express your opinions.

UAW: United Automobile Workers of America, President Ron Gettelfinger 8000 East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, MI 48214, (313) 926-5000.

Chrysler: DaimlerChrysler Customer Assistance Center, P.O. Box 21-8004, Auburn Hills, MI 48321-8004, (p) 1-800-992-1997.

General Motors: To send a comment via the Internet, go to