May 22, 2024
A handful of public universities in states that have restricted abortion following the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization continue to offer abortion in their student health insurance plans.

A handful of public universities in states that have restricted abortion following the Supreme Court ‘s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization continue to offer abortion in their student health insurance plans.

In the aftermath of the court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and ending federal protections for abortion, the legal landscape on abortion has varied substantially as state-level bans and restrictions have gone into effect or have been tied up in legal proceedings.


On Tuesday, 100 days since the court’s landmark decision, President Joe Biden announced that the Department of Education will adopt new guidelines for universities as the White House reminded institutions they must not discriminate against students that seek out abortions.

In a Tuesday memo, Jennifer Klein, the director of the White House Gender Policy Council, said the new guidelines would reiterate that, under Title IX, “institutions protect their students from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, including pregnancy termination.”

For institutions in states that have either banned or restricted abortion, that could be difficult. But several public institutions in those states still cover abortion in their student health insurance plans contracted through private insurance companies.

Because the insurance plans at the various colleges and universities are provided by a private insurer, with premiums paid for directly by students, a student paying for the university’s healthcare plan will thus have their medical expenses covered through the insurance plan even if they leave the state in which their university is located.

Here’s a look at how certain public universities have handled abortion insurance coverage in states where the procedure has been restricted.


Two public universities in Ohio have student health insurance plans that cover elective abortions. The state is one of several to have enacted a so-called heartbeat law, which bans abortion after the detection of a heartbeat.

At the University of Akron, the health insurance plan for international students through LewerMark Student Insurance covers up to $1,000 in expenses for an elective abortion on an annual basis.

In a statement to the Washington Examiner, university spokeswoman Cristine Boyd said the institution had entered into a “3-year price guarantee contract” with LewerMark in 2020 that ensured the premiums for the plans would only increase by 3% in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.

“The University does not subsidize these plans,” Boyd said. “The international student health insurance is billed to the international students via the term bill (by semester).”

At Ohio State University, the state’s flagship public university, student health insurance is available through UnitedHealthcare. Abortion coverage is limited to only those students who are not receiving a premium subsidy from the university through some sort of employment or program due to a statewide ban on public funds being used for the procurement of abortions. Otherwise, the plan covers up to 90% of expenses for an elective abortion.

In a statement shortly after the court’s June ruling, Ohio State said it was “closely examining the decision from the Supreme Court and changes in state law” and that it would “make adjustments to services, course offerings or resources to be in compliance with the law.”

“During times of change, public universities such as Ohio State play an important role in facilitating dialogue,” the university said. “Consistent with our mission, vision and values, we will look for opportunities for dialogue and engagement while continuing to rely on our shared commitment to considerate discourse.”

University of Tennessee System

Tennessee is another state that has banned abortion after the detection of a heartbeat. The state’s main public university, the University of Tennessee, and its various campuses, facilitates its student health insurance plan through UnitedHealthcare.

The plan, which is identical for students at the university’s Knoxville, Martin, and Chattanooga campuses, covers elective abortion for up to $1,000 per year after a deductible.

None of the three University of Tennessee campuses responded to requests for comment from the Washington Examiner.


One of a handful of states where abortion is entirely banned, two public universities in Missouri have facilitated student health insurance plans for their international students through LewerMark.


The insurance policies for international students at Truman State University and Southeast Missouri State University mirror each other and include coverage for elective abortions up to $1,000 per year.

Neither university responded to a request for comment.

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