Cincinnati will soon add coverage for elective abortions to health insurance plans for city workers. The council voted unanimously on Wednesday to repeal a 2001 ordinance that banned such coverage.
“What we can say is that we are clear that women’s bodies do not belong to the government,” Council member Meeka Owens said. “The ability to determine for oneself what life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness mean is, in fact, an inherent right, which we will do everything in our power to protect.”
The repeal allows Acting City Manager John Curp to change the health insurance policy to cover elective abortions. The policy already covers abortion that is medically necessary. And about 1,600 of the city’s roughly 6,000 employees already had full coverage for abortion services, as it was negotiated as part of their AFSCME union contract.
The new coverage will take effect immediately.
Separately, the city manager’s office is drafting a policy to reimburse employees for travel expenses associated with an abortion or travel for any medical coverage not available within 150 miles. Policy details should be available in about a week; it will likely be available to all city workers, not just those with city health insurance.
And Mayor Aftab Pureval has called for a report within 30 days on how the city government can “decriminalize” abortion in Cincinnati.
Abortion resolution passes 8-1
A resolution denouncing the overthrow of Roe v. Wade was passed without the support of the council’s only Republican: Liz Keating.
“The resolution as it stands is far too extreme because it leaves open the possibility of late abortions, which goes far beyond what Roe proposed. I have a hard time with that,” Keating said.
Keating proposed an amendment to the resolution that would affirm an individual’s right to access abortion “until the end of the first trimester or when the life or health of the mother is in danger.”
Keating says she’s personally very pro-life, but also believes a woman has the right to make private health care decisions with her health care provider.
“I am a Catholic, a Republican, a woman, a mother, coming to the table to find consensus here to be able to make a powerful statement about something that divides us so deeply in this country,” Keating said. “And I ask: where are my colleagues to meet and find something that we can agree on?”
The amendment failed without a second and the resolution carried 8-1.
The original resolution states that the mayor and council oppose any legislation to limit access to safe abortion. Read the full text below: