State Legislature Bans University of Wyoming from Covering Abortions Under Student Insurance Plans

Mairead McArdle

The Wyoming state legislature last week passed a measure banning the University of Wyoming from covering elective abortions under its student health insurance plans.

Republican state representative Chuck Gray led the push to ban taxpayer-funded coverage of elective abortions at the university in the form of a budget amendment prohibiting “any general funds, federal funds or other funds under [the school’s] control” from being funneled to elective abortions. The amendment does not prohibit coverage of the procedure in cases of rape or incest, which are both currently covered by the university.

The push to end taxpayer-funded coverage of elective abortions came after a 2018 report from The College Fix that quoted a school official detailing how the student insurance plans for domestic and international students “cover both medically necessary and elective abortion.”

“We have passed a House and a Senate amendment to the budget that stopped the taxpayer subsidization of abortion at the University of Wyoming,” Gray told The College Fix. “That means the conference committee being appointed to consider the budget can’t change or remove that amendment.  So it will be in the final budget.”

“The only hurdle is the governor,” Gray said.

The school said it plans to alter its United Healthcare student health insurance plans to remove abortion coverage should the budget amendment take effect.

The move was criticized by another GOP state legislator, Representative Patrick Sweeney, who argued that the abortion funding ban was an “overreach of the budget” given that it also bans “other funds” held by the school from covering abortions. Those other funds are payments from students who choose to buy into the insurance plans, and the university is the middle man.

However, Gray argued the separation of funds is fuzzier than some argue.

“Through the state block grant, the state has been subsidizing the coverage of elective abortion in the student plan,” Gray said. “This budget has almost $450 million in state support for the University of Wyoming. Our state should not be subsidizing abortion.”

The Wyoming decision comes as other states have pushed for more abortion coverage at public universities. In December, California’s Democratic governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation mandating that public colleges and universities provide students with chemical-abortion pills at no cost, the first state to do so.

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