Kansas state Rep compares getting pregnant from rape to getting a flat tire.

Banning insurance coverage of abortion–in the new state exchanges as well as the private market–has been a favorite anti-choice tactic ever since health care reform. A couple weeks ago, Kansas became the latest state to pass a bill prohibiting all private insurance companies in the state from covering abortion care, except when the woman’s life is at risk.

Women will be free to buy separate riders if they anticipate needing an abortion in the future because, obviously, just like cancer and car accidents, an unintended pregnancy is something that they should be able to see coming. There was some disagreement in the Kansas House, however, as to whether that’s a reasonable expectation. The McPherson Sentinet reports:

And Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican who supports abortion rights, questioned whether women would buy abortion-only policies long before they have crisis or unwanted pregnancies or are rape victims.

During the House’s debate, Rep. Pete DeGraaf, a Mulvane Republican who supports the bill, told her: “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?”

Bollier asked him, “And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with a pregnancy?”

DeGraaf drew groans of protest from some House members when he responded, “I have spare tire on my car.”

“I also have life insurance,” he added. “I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”

Life: always throwing us curve-balls. Like rape and flat tires. The callousness of comparing getting pregnant from rape to blowing out a tire is, of course, jaw-dropping–and perhaps even rivals Sharron Angle’s advice to pregnant rape victims to accept that “God has a plan” and make “a lemon situation into lemonade.”

But DeGraaf’s comments also reveals just how absurd and disingenuous anti-choice opposition to insurance coverage for abortion is. “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?” Why, yes, indeed! And one way that we generally “plan ahead” for unexpected problems that may or may not befall us is by doing things like, oh I dunno, buying health insurance plans. Plans that are hopefully general and comprehensive enough that we do not have to predict whether we’re ultimately going to need medical care for a heart attack, or a brain tumor, or pneumonia, or a fetal abnormality, or an unintended pregnancy–or any number of tragedies that I, for one, tend to alternately believe will never happen to me or else will surely strike at any moment.

The entire point of health insurance is to protect us against the unexpected. And an unintended pregnancy–whether caused by rape or birth control failure or human error–is the very definition of the unexpected. That’s why most private insurance plans currently cover abortion. Taking away that coverage and then urging women to “plan ahead” by buying a separate abortion rider amounts to imposing a financial penalty for the crime of being able to get pregnant.

That’s straight-up discrimination against people with uteri–which, unlike the occasional flat tire, we should not have to put up with.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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