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
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.
Government’s Policy is Discriminatory
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
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
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
The FEHBP is yet another
instance of how women who rely on the
federal government for their health coverage have been denied access to
abortion. Since 1977, the Hyde Amendment
has banned Medicaid
for abortion with very few
been prohibited by Congress from using even its own funds to cover
abortion services for poor women. On July 16, 2009, the House
Representatives voted to discontinue the DC ban on abortion funding,
and the Center is calling on the Senate to do the same.
A key goal of the
Federal Policy Agenda
is securing access to safe abortion for all
women. We have persistently urged lawmakers to remove
funding restrictions on abortion.
Now we are calling on Congress to
lift the ban on abortion coverage when it votes on the 2010
appropriation for the FEHBP.
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 ,
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
Thousands of federal
employees live at or below the federal poverty
Budget Office has concluded
that permitting health
plans to cover abortions under the FEHBP does not add to the cost of
the insurance premiums .
Learn more about the Federal
Employees Health Benefits Plan (PDF) >,
Senator Mikulski, Cong. Rec. S11499 (daily ed. Aug.5, 1995)
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).
Guttmacher Institute, Get “In the Know”: Questions
About Pregnancy, Contraception, and Abortion,
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).
Senator Snowe, Cong. Rec. S10245 (daily ed. Sept. 11, 1996).