The Texas House of Representatives voted Tuesday to tentatively approve a bill prohibiting general insurance coverage of elective abortions.
House Bill 214 (HB214) prohibits private health insurance plans, state employee coverage and plans under the Affordable Care Act from covering elective abortions. An abortion performed because the mother's life is at risk would still be covered.
The bill does allow insurance companies to offer supplemental plans to cover an abortion.
The bill's author, Representative John Smithee (R-Amarillo) said HB 214 ensures the state and people who pay into the insurance pool and oppose abortion aren't supplementing the procedure.
Representative Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) proposed an amendment to exempt survivors of rape or incest so that abortions would still be covered in those cases. He told lawmakers to do otherwise would be cruel.
But Representative Smithee opposed the amendment, saying in those cases, the baby is innocent and he asked lawmakers to "try to be understanding of our beliefs."
As lawmakers further debated the amendment, tensions rose.
"I'm just really baffled by they fact that we cannot consider rape and incest," said Representative Donna Howard (D-Austin). "Imagine in this room gentleman, your wives or your daughters. Think of the most vile person you can imagine in your head raping your daughter or your wife. And you want her to have that baby. Seriously. I can't, I can't believe it," she said before walking away from the microphone as people in the gallery applauded.
The amendment failed and lawmakers voted 95 to 51 to tentatively pass the bill.
The House will take a final vote on the bill Wednesday.