DJ and her husband were looking forward to having their first child. Then DJ´s doctor gave the couple devastating news: the baby DJ was carrying had a severe neural defect and would die either before or shortly after birth. The doctor advised DJ to end the pregnancy immediately for her overall health and wellbeing. DJ had an abortion soon after.
But even though the abortion was determined to be medically necessary, DJ´s insurance refused to cover it. Why? Because DJ is an employee of the U.S. government, which bans its employees from choosing a healthcare plan that covers abortion.
The Government's Policy is Discriminatory
Congress does not dictate what should be covered or excluded under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) for any other medical service besides abortion. Insurance companies that participate in the FEHBP are only permitted to cover abortion in extremely narrow circumstances — when a woman's life is endangered or when her pregnancy is the result of incest or rape. In contrast, abortion is commonly included as a covered procedure by health insurance plans offered in the private sector and by HMOs.
As a result of the ban, millions of women who rely on the plan are unfairly denied a health service that only they need and are forced to pay for it out of pocket. For DJ and her husband, the bill they were expected to pay amounted to $9,000.
The FEHBP abortion funding restriction was first enacted in 1983 and has been retained in the appropriations bill by anti-choice members of Congress every year since with the exception of 1993 and 1994.
Federal Government and Your Health
Some Facts:Other than abortion services, Congress does not dictate what benefits must be offered or what benefits must be excluded .
Approximately 25% of all U.S. pregnancies end in abortion , and it is estimated that one in three American women will undergo an abortion procedure before turning 45 .
In 2005, the median cost of an abortion at 10 weeks gestation was $430 and the median cost of abortion procedures at later gestations was $1,260. .
Thousands of federal employees live at or below the federal poverty level .
The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that permitting health plans to cover abortions under the FEHBP does not add to the cost of the insurance premiums .
1. Senator Mikulski, Cong. Rec. S11499 (daily ed. Aug.5, 1995)
2. Rachel K. Jones, et al., Patterns in the socioeconomic characteristics of women obtaining abortions in 2000–2001, 34 Persp. on Sexual &, Reprod. Health 226, 229 (2002).
3. Guttmacher Institute, Get “In the Know”: Questions About Pregnancy, Contraception, and Abortion, http://www.guttmacher.org/in-the-know/in-the-know. pdf (last visited June 29, 2009) (citing AGI, State Facts About Abortion, 2003).(March 16, 2007) (on file with Bonnie Scott Jones).
5. Senator Snowe, Cong. Rec. S10245 (daily ed. Sept. 11, 1996).