North Carolina County Cuts Paid Abortions for Employees

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 7, 2010   |   2:36PM   |   Raleigh, NC

Wake County, North Carolina is the latest to cut taxpayer funded abortions for government employees — a move that is helping spread the new trend nationwide to get government out of the abortion business.

The county commission’s new Republican majority acted soon after commissioner-elect Phil Matthews was sworn in, according to the Raleigh Public Record newspaper.

Paul Coble, another Republican and the former mayor of Raleigh, was appointed chairman of the county commission and the board immediately took a series of votes, including removing abortion coverage from county employees’ health care plans.

The newspaper indicates county employees have been able to get tax-funded abortions since 1994 and the previous County Commission approved the latest health care plan earlier this year, which includes the abortions.

Tony Gurley, a Republican member of the commission, has always maintained the funding contravenes state law and a 1981 North Carolina Supreme Court case.

Melissa Reed of Planned Parenthood, the Public record says, spoke during the comment section of the meeting and decried the decision.

“Stan versus NC makes it clear that it is perfectly legal to offer [elective abortion] care to your employees,” said Reed. “You are inserting big government into our most personal issues.”

And James West, a Democrat on the panel, complained: “This board is getting involved in things that government shouldn’t be involved in.”

Commissioner Betty Lou Ward went further and said the actions reminded her of segregation.

The county agency approved the new abortion-free plan on a 4-3 vote and abortions are only available with county tax dollars now in the very rare cases of protecting the life of the mother or in rape or incest.

Sarah Preston, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, and Carey Pope, executive director of NARAL’s North Carolina chapter, also condemned the decision.

The change will take effect on January 1 and the vote follows one taken by the Kent County Commission in Grand rapids, Michigan.

In September, the Kent County Commission voted 9-0 to remove abortion coverage from the county health insurance plans. [related]

The county’s self-funded insurance plan is administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and it has paid $5,601 for 13 abortions since 2004. The plan covers 82 percent of the more than 1,700 employees in the county, while the rest are covered under the fully insured Grand Valley Health Plan HMO, which does not pay for abortions.

The decision has already come under fire from the police union.