Local Politics

Wake could restore abortion funding to insurance plans

Posted March 14, 2010 10:06 p.m. EDT
Updated March 14, 2010 11:31 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County Board of Commissioners could reverse a decision Monday that eliminated coverage of elective abortions from the health plan for county employees.

After learning that the state Supreme Court outlawed payment for the procedure by public entities in 1981, County Manager David Cooke signed an administrative order Feb. 10 to eliminate the coverage.

The county had apparently not noticed when its provider added the elective abortions coverage to the plans it provides in 1999.

Commissioners Chairman Tony Gurley said Sunday that he doesn’t believe taxpayers, who subsidize medical policy plans for government employees, should fund abortions.

"If the legislature wanted Wake County to cover abortion services, the legislature would give Wake County specific authority to do so, and the legislature has not done so,” Gurley said.

Commissioner Stan Norwalk doesn't think Cooke should have moved unilaterally. He said Sunday that the board should have voted on whether to drop the coverage.

"I don't want to be bullied into doing something that we wouldn't have otherwise done,” Norwalk said.

The Democrat also said fewer than 20 women have had county-funded abortions in the last five years.

"By in large, tax dollars aren't being used to pay for abortions,” Norwalk said.

Pro-choice supporters say female employees will suffer if elective abortions remain eliminated from county health coverage.

"County employees have the right to comprehensive health care. Abortion care is a part of a regular comprehensive health plan,” said Melissa Reed, vice president for public policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems.

In the decision is not reversed, Wake County employees would still be reimbursed for abortions in cases of rape, incest or danger to the health of the mother.