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October 23, 2012 4:39 PM Columbia University Health Plan Will Now Cover Abortions

By Daniel Luzer

Columbia’s abortion policy recently turned into something of a public relations disaster.

The New York school has had a long-standing policy of covering abortions under its health care plan. Recently, however, in what looked to be an effort to save money, the school changed the plan. And then everyone noticed. According to a piece by Katie J.M. Baker at Jezebel:

Columbia University covered abortions through the Columbia Health Program fee, which all students are required to pay. But now, abortion is covered under the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan, meaning that a student in need of an abortion who is covered by her parents’ or her own insurance policy can no longer rely on the university for financial help.

The university, understandably, didn’t exactly publicize this change. But then one student discovered it buried in the school’s health care policy brochure. The student, together with the Columbia College Democrats, decided to let everyone know.

Some students evidently supported the new plan. Nathan Grubb of the Columbia Right to Life told the Columbia Spectator that he liked the new policy because “Subsidizing something that is unhealthy and that is a bad choice—it’s the same thing as subsidizing cigarettes. We believe that there are better choices that the administration could support.” (Well no, not the same thing; you think abortion is morally wrong, not that it causes lung cancer, but whatever.)

And so Columbia was forced to backtrack. Yesterday Columbia announced that it had created a discretionary fund for “special, time-sensitive healthcare needs”—including abortions—that would cover all students. It won’t come out of that Columbia Health Program fee, so even people like Grubb are cool with the fix. Problem solved.

Columbia insurance, incidentally, still doesn’t cover dental or eye care.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer