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Council approves elective abortion insurance coverage for city workers

Entrance to Council of Cincinnati
Becca Costello
/
WVXU

Cincinnati will soon add coverage for elective abortions to health insurance plans for city workers. Council voted unanimously Wednesday to repeal a 2001 ordinance that prohibited that coverage.

“What we can say is that we are clear that women's bodies do not belong to the government,” said Council Member Meeka Owens. “The ability to self-determine what life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means is, in fact, an inherent right, that we will do everything in our power to protect.”

The repeal allows Interim City Manager John Curp to modify the health insurance policy so that it covers elective abortions. The policy already covers abortion that is medically necessary. And about 1,600 of the city’s approximately 6,000 employees already had full coverage for abortion services because 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 costs associated with getting an abortion, or for traveling for any health coverage not available within 150 miles. Details of the policy should be available in about a week; it will likely be available to all city workers, not just those receiving health insurance from the city.

And Mayor Aftab Pureval requested a report within 30 days on how city government can “decriminalize” abortion in Cincinnati.

Abortion resolution passes 8-1

A resolution denouncing the overturning of Roe v. Wade passed without the support of council’s only Republican: Liz Keating.

“The resolution as-is is far too extreme because it leaves open the option of late term abortions, which is far beyond what Roe went in. I struggle with that,” Keating said.

Keating offered an amendment to the resolution that would affirm an individual’s right to abortion access “up to the end of the first trimester or when the life or health of the mother is at risk.”

Keating says she is personally very pro-life, but also feels strongly that a woman has the right to make private health care decisions with her health care provider.

“I am a Catholic, Republican, woman, mother, coming to the table to find some consensus here to be able to make a powerful statement in something that divides us so deeply in this country,” Keating said. “And I'm asking: where are my colleagues to come together and find something that we can agree on?”

The amendment failed without a second and the resolution passed 8-1.

The original resolution says the mayor and council oppose all legislation to limit access to safe abortion. Read the full text below:

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.