Republican's insurance bill brings back preexisting conditions, defines contraception as abortion

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Glenn Gruenhagen believes he's really good at science. In this photo from 2013, he's declaring his opposition to the same-sex marriage bill because "there is no gay gene." Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

Legislators discussed a Republican-authored bill in the House commerce committee on Wednesday. And it includes a rather curious provision claiming contraceptives are abortion-inducing drugs.

The bill as a whole is largely about giving insurers the right to refuse to cover preexisting conditions, which nurses, farmers, and the Minnesota Council of Health Plans spoke against. One section would also make insurance companies offer plan options that do not include coverage for birth control.

Currently, Obamacare mandates that employers – unless they have a religious exemption – provide contraception coverage.

While it may be lost on the Minnesota Legislature's new conservtive majority, the Pill, IUDs, Plan B, and other forms of birth control do not cause abortions. It’s a fairly easy-to-grasp concept, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Fertilization is when an egg fuses with a sperm. Implantation is when the fertilized egg gets implanted in the uterus. Once that is complete, the woman is pregnant.

But birth control prevents either fertilization or implantation – and by extension pregnancy – from ever happening. 

So how in the world was this provision written? Well, that’s also pretty easy to grasp, considering the chief author is Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe).

Gruenhagen is the House’s kookiest science skeptic. He actually believes that climate change is “a United Nations fraud.”

In the past, he’s also called homosexuality “an unhealthy sexual addiction,” and accused the government of secretly paying nonwhite welfare recipients to have children.

He also once introduced his “ex-gay friend,” Kevin, on the House floor as proof that gay conversion therapy really works.

More recently, he called the national popular vote “mob democracy."

At Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan) called Gruenhagan out on his piece about contraceptives as “really really scary,” and “factually inaccurate.”

The bill places "medically untrue statements in state statute about what particular contraceptive methods do,” Halverson said. “I don’t belabor the point because this is not a healthcare committee, but I think all of us, as we talk about healthcare coverage, talk about wanting to expand coverage and how people can get the care they need. We never say ‘except for.’ ‘Except for women,’ is what we’re saying in this particular section of the bill?”

Gruenhagen responded that this provision was based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed private businesses to offer health insurance that doesn't include birth control, as long as it contradicted the business’ religious affiliation.

Gruenhagen’s bill applies to all businesses, whether they are religious or not.


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