Wake commissioners reinstate abortion coverage

WAKE COUNTY Last month, the Wake County Manager decided to exclude elective abortions from the health plan offered to county employees, citing it was illegal to use taxpayer money for the controversial procedure.

But Monday afternoon, the commission voted to reinstate the coverage. The board passed a resolution covering elective abortions for county employees in a 4 to 3 vote.

During Monday's meeting, Commissioner Stan Norwalk brought up the resolution to reinstate coverage.

"The Wake Board of County Commissioners instructs the Wake County manager to reinstate such coverage," Norwalk said. "I just don't want to be bullied into doing anything. If you want to start over and bring that subject up, we could debate it."

However before the vote, tempers flared as the debate over coverage split along party lines and became political.

"With a weak economy, mounting pressure on our budget and people worried about the loss of jobs, we seem to have chosen an odd time to push this political issue," commissioner Paul Coble said.

"Look at yourselves first because none of us, none of the democrats even would have brought this issue up," commissioner Lindy Brown said.

"This is going to be a fierce race, that's why this was brought up at this time," Norwalk said.

In February, Wake County Manager David Cooke modified the health plan offered to employees, so that abortions are covered only when they are medically necessary or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

"We are not allowed currently to use taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions," Commission Chair Tony Gurley said. "Our current policy mirrors the current federal policy."

But several commissioners didn't agree with how the issue was handled.

"They took authority without coming before this board to discuss and to get a ruling on it," Brown said.

Even taxpayers showed up at the Board of Commissioners hearing Monday to voice their opinions.

"Please do not permit Wake County to use my family's money to destroy what God has created," taxpayer Diana Sterling said.

"What we should do is support a woman through this difficult decision and provide her with the access she needs to stay healthy," said Sarah Preston with the American Civil Liberties Union.

It appears the issue isn't going away. However for now based on the action taken Monday, county employees will have coverage for elective abortions starting Friday.

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