Thu, Sep 30, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Abortion costs under scrutiny

WOMEN'S HEALTH A committee is examining a change that would exempt women who are raped from having to paying for an abortion

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Committee under the Ministry of the Interior is examining whether the cost of abortions for rape victims should be covered under the National Health Insurance Law (全民健保法).

"At the moment, whether or not the cost of an abortion is covered under the national health insurance scheme is determined on a case-by-case basis by the physician attending the victim," said Lin Tsyr-ling (林慈玲), executive secretary of the committee.

"If the physician's diagnosis states that the pregnancy is detrimental to the physical and mental health of the victim, then the cost of the abortion can be paid for by the scheme," Lin said.

Article 3 of the Genetic Health Law (優生保健法) allows the termination of pregnancies which may be detrimental to a woman's health or mind, while Article 5 permits the termination of pregnancy associated with rape.

"What happens now though is that our national health insurance scheme only includes Article 3 and not Article 5. The committee is still looking into whether the inclusion of Article 5 is necessary," Lin said.

Lin said some specialists felt that if a policy allowed all purported rape victims' abortion fees to be covered, then the well-meaning system might be abused.

"If someone claims to be raped, there is definitely a criminal issue involved. If the policy is to be established, it might be taken advantage of by some girls who got pregnant without being raped," Lin said.

The committee is collecting data from sexual violence prevention centers run by local governments to establish if rape-abortion cases are being paid by the national health insurance under Article 3 of the genetic health law.

"If it turns out that most local governments are having rape victims' abortion costs paid for under the national health insurance scheme, then because most doctors' diagnoses will be consistent with an Article 3-type pregnancy, making a new policy include Article 5 may not be necessary," Lin said.

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