OLYMPIA, WA, March 4, 2014 ( – Congressman Chris Smith's years-long contention that it is difficult to determine whether insurance companies cover abortion has been bolstered by an unlikely source: the leading figure in a regional Planned Parenthood.

Elaine Rose, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW), wrote that “under the Affordable Care Act, it’s nearly impossible to find out which insurance plans cover abortion.”

“It took the staff of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest more than a week to figure it out, and we’re still not even completely sure which plans do what,” she admitted.


“If it’s this hard for insurance carriers and Planned Parenthood to figure out which plans cover abortion, then imagine how hard it is for the average consumer,” she wrote in an article for Real Change, an alternative newspaper in Washington state that prides itself on “taking action for economic justice.”

Smith sponsored the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would require insurance companies to clearly tell consumers whether their premiums would defer the cost of abortion. The House of Representatives passed the bill, along with the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, in late January by a 227-188 vote.

A few weeks before it passed the House, 13 Republicans led by Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts introduced the bill in the Senate. However, Majority Leader Harry Reid is not expected to bring the measure up for a vote.

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Sen. Roberts introduced the law into the upper chamber after HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had a tense exchange with Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois over the topic.

On October 30, Congressman Shimkus asked Sebelius to provide his committee with a list of insurers who do not cover abortion. “I will check and make sure that is clearly identifiable,” she promised.

Yet Congressman Shimkus asked why she had not fulfilled her pledge by December 11 at a subsequent hearing.

Sebelius said the information is already clearly listed and thus, “It is available.”

The op-ed by a Planned Parenthood leader may undermine that case.

Rose, a former state senior assistant attorney general, intended her words to support a more controversial bill, the state's Reproductive Parity Act. The RPA forces insurance companies that pay for maternity care to provide coverage for elective abortions, as well.

“The truth is that there’s only one way to end the confusion and achieve equal justice under the law: pass RPA,” she said.

Congressman Chris Smith's office did not return a request for comment by deadline.


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