Education , Culture & the Family

Ray Carter | February 28, 2023

Teacher union seeks taxpayer funding of abortion

Ray Carter

In a new report, the National Education Association (NEA) calls for its affiliates to demand coverage of abortion in collective-bargaining agreements, which would effectively require taxpayers to directly or indirectly fund abortions.

Where bargaining does not occur, the NEA report states that “efforts should be made through joint-health care committees, board policy, or other advocacy” to ensure school employees can obtain abortions.

The Oklahoma Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, is an affiliate of the NEA and touts the fact on its website.

“Only the OEA is affiliated with a national parent organization—the National Education Association—that is fighting to keep public education safe from those who would destroy it for self-interest reasons,” the OEA states.

The OEA website links to the NEA website, and the NEA website likewise links to the OEA website.

In its new report, “Bargaining & Advocacy in a Post Roe Environment,” the NEA declares that collective-bargaining agreements “can be a vital tool in preserving coverage” of abortion in states like Oklahoma that have restricted abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which held, “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.”

The Dobbs ruling left regulation of abortion to the states. The response has varied across the country with some states mandating that abortion be allowed until birth while other states, such as Oklahoma, have significantly restricted the legality of the procedure.

The NEA report states, “Where current bargaining efforts do not provide comprehensive coverage for reproductive services, one may argue that bargaining should take place over the impact of the Dobbs decision since the resulting state bans and restrictions are significant changes that affect multiple mandatory subjects of the contract, which may obligate the employer to bargain with the Union.”

The union advises that contracts should require that teachers’ health insurance, which is taxpayer-funded in Oklahoma, include coverage of “in-clinic and medication abortion services.”

“The medical term ‘abortion’ has several meanings, often with the same treatments, including both surgical and medication abortions,” the NEA report states. “Therefore, it’s essential that when bargaining, prescription drug coverage for reproductive services must be comprehensive and include contraception (including emergency contraception, such as Plan B), as well as FDA-approved prescription medications to induce abortion and for miscarriages.”

The report also urges its affiliates to demand coverage for mail delivery of abortion drugs, in part to lower the cost of those drugs, and that prescriptions for those drugs be provided via telehealth consultations rather than an in-person meeting with a doctor. The report also states that “telehealth across state lines is a benefit that can also be bargained.”

If a union contract does not provide for remote consultations, or the remote option is not viable, the NEA report declares that “bargaining should address travel reimbursement” for those who seek abortions.

“In situations where individuals requiring an abortion or other reproductive care are forced to travel great distances, the need for substantially more paid leave will be necessary,” the NEA report states. “Therefore, unions should consider addressing these needs in bargaining.”

The report includes sample language for contracts on those topics.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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