by Max Brantley
You may recall that Sen. Cecile Bledsoe has attempted to pass legislation to prevent private insurance companies from providing insurance coverage for abortion to their private pay clients in new health exchanges set up under federal law. A House committee added an amendment to prevent the legislation from barring private insurance coverage to rape victims and to also consider health of the mother.
Bledsoe and others in the anti-choice brigade contended this amendment was unconstitutional and thus termed it a bill-killer. They want raped women to be forced, if impoverished or uninsured, to have no option but to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, even to the point they'd refuse a morning-after-rape pill for an assault victim. A woman's health is also of little concern to them (even, we now know, to the point that many anti-choicers want to allow anti-abortion hospitals to deny abortions to women for whom the decision could be a death sentence.)
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, in an official opinion issued in response to questions from Bledsoe, says the amendment is not unconstitutional. It does not require expenditure of state money on abortion, which is prohibited by the Arkansas Constitution, McDaniel said.