by Steven Ertelt
February 23, 2006
Phoenix, AZ (LifeNews.com) — Lawmakers in the Arizona state Senate backed a bill Wednesday that would ensure taxpayer funds are not used to pay for abortions through government insurance plans. It would cover health insurance plans for state, local and county government workers.
The measure expands existing law that prohibits the use of state funds to pay for abortions. The only exception is in cases to save the life of the mother.
Sen. Karen Johnson, a Republican, told lawmakers during debate that the bill closes a loophole some cities are taking advantage of that allows them to purchase health insurance. The cities claim the funds are not being spend on abortions directly even though abortions are covered under the plans.
"They can take their salary and go pay for an abortion," she said of those government employees who want to have an abortion, according to an Arizona Daily Star report.
Johnson said it should be irrelevant that the cost to have a baby is more than the cost to have an abortion. She also rejected requests to alter her bill to allow abortions in cases of supposed threats to a mother’s health, which would have rendered the bill useless.
According to the newspaper, Johnson’s measure only allows the coverage in cases of averting "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function," language found in other pro-life laws that has been upheld in court.
Cathi Herrod, interim president of the Center for Arizona Policy, told AP that the government paying for abortions through health insurance plans violates previous law prohibiting direct taxpayer funding of abortions.
"At some level taxpayer dollars are being used — whether it’s administrative costs, whether it’s in the publication of a pamphlet that lists the insurance benefit," she said.
Should the Senate give it final approval, as is expected, the measure will head to the state House.
Earlier this month, the Senate Government Committee signed off on the health insurance bill by a 4-2 margin.
Gov. Janet Napolitano has refused to comment on the pro-life legislation. She vetoed a bill in 2004 that would have allowed women to receive information about abortion’s risks and alternatives that abortion businesses sometimes withhold from women considering abortions.
Napolitano has also vetoed a measure that would have protected pro-life pharmacists from being forced to dispense drugs that could cause abortions.
TAKE ACTION: Contact your elected officials and encourage them to support these proposals. Find contact info at https://www.azleg.gov.