Wake County drops elective abortion coverage

Staff writersFebruary 11, 2010 

Wake County will no longer pay for elective abortions for employees, with leaders citing a 29-year-old state Supreme Court ruling which they say makes reimbursement for the practice illegal.

An agenda item for Monday’s Wake County Board of Commissioners meeting will address the change, but only to take note of it, not to ask permission, board chairman Tony Gurley said today. The change was made administratively Wednesday by county manager David Cooke, Gurley said.

“We don't pay for that any more,” Gurley said. “As soon as we were made aware it was illegal, we stopped doing it.”

The county’s self-insurance plan will continue to pay for abortions in the cases of incest, rape or danger to the life of the mother.

Commissioner Stan Norwalk said today he was satisfied with the resolution of the issue without a vote of the commissioners. The resolution for Monday’s agenda notes that state insurance department guidelines do not mandate coverage of abortions.

Wake County has covered elective abortions for employees since at least 1999.

After Apex dropped coverage recently for elective abortion for its employees, legal analysts from the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of North Carolina said governments have a choice.

The two groups analyzed city and county insurance rights in the state. They said that state statutes allow local governments to provide whatever benefits package is deemed appropriate without specific restriction on abortion coverage, a finding both Gurley and Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly dispute.

thomas.goldsmith@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8929

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