By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
CHAPEL HILL — Parents packing their teens off to college in the UNC system or adults signing up for at least six hours of classes this fall may find themselves helping to pay for abortions whether they want to or not, thanks to the university system’s new health insurance requirement.
“This is just one example of what happens when people are forced to purchase health insurance. The ones who can’t afford their own policy will automatically wind up on the college system which offers benefits for abortion and for ‘domestic partner’ coverage,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “And even if they opt out of the coverage for themselves, their premiums stay the same, so they will still be footing the bill whenever another student has an abortion.”
The controversy arose when pro-life students found out that the policy offered to those who could not show proof that they already had insurance included a $500 benefit with a 20 percent deductible for elective abortions. The health insurance for all 16 campuses of the UNC system is a “hard waiver” plan meaning that students are enrolled in it automatically unless they show evidence of an existing policy or purchase their own coverage outside the system at a higher cost.
“Paying for abortions should not be a pre-requisite to learning,” Kristan Hawkins, the executive director of Students for Life of America (SFLA), told LifeNews.com.
The organization set up a Web site — www.noabortioninhealthcare.com — to raise awareness about the forced abortion payments and to urge pro-life students to contact the N.C. Board of Governors in protest. Within a few days, UNC System President Erskine Bowles asked Pearce and Pearce Inc., which is administering the insurance, to send out e-mails giving students a chance to drop the abortion coverage. However the action won’t decrease their premiums, which will run about $360 per semester.
Organizers of the protest say the new opt-out provision is not a victory.
“The UNC System is still considering abortion to be health care. Abortion is not health care neither for the pre-born child or his mother,” the group reminded the Board of Governors on its Web site (www.noabortioninhealthcare.com). “Abortion should be removed from the UNC System completely.”
The pro-life students also raise the concern that the abortion coverage may violate the Hyde Amendment since U.S. taxpayers fund federal grant money that flows to colleges and universities. Because the abortion insurance is added to the student’s “cost of attendance,” which is used to determine how much federal aid is granted him or her, additional federal funds could be directed to the student to help cover the insurance cost, i.e. pay for abortion.
The UNC System’s Board of Governors did not address that issue in its response to the outcry and e-mail campaign, but did issue a statement announcing the opt-out plan and stating that the intent in establishing the insurance requirement was to “provide better health care coverage for our students at lower cost.” While pointing out that, like the University plan, the State Health Plan includes elective abortion coverage for state employees, the board did not go further to explain why they wanted to offer coverage that might encourage the procedure among students nor why they felt students opposed to abortion should have to pay for it in order to join the plan.
Hawkins told OneNewsNow that offering abortions cheaper could increase the abortion rate. Already, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, there are 1.1 million abortions performed in the U.S. each year, more than half of them on women younger than 25.
“We encourage students and parents to continue to demand that the UNC System either drop elective abortion coverage from the plan or drop the insurance requirement entirely,” said the Rev. Creech. “This plan also fails in other areas — with a provision to cover a ‘domestic partner,’ a term not even defined in state law.
“Surely our university system — if it insists on making insurance mandatory — can come up with a better offer for students.”