January 27, 2011 — The Pennsylvania Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Tuesday voted 12-2 to approve a bill (HB 3) that would prohibit health insurance plans that participate in state-based health insurance exchanges from providing coverage for abortions, the Philadelphia Inquirer's "Commonwealth Confidential" reports. The federal health reform law (PL 111-148) mandates that the state-based exchanges must be operational by 2014 to provide a marketplace for individuals and small businesses to purchase coverage.
According to "Commonwealth Confidential," some abortion rights advocates contend that the measure would be "a step backwards" in reproductive health care because federal law already prohibits federal funding of abortion and the state Senate proposal would restrict abortion coverage in private health policies. Under state law, exceptions for abortion are permitted in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman. Individuals still could go outside the exchange to purchase a supplemental health plan to cover abortion (Worden, "Commonwealth Confidential," Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/25).
Wyo. House Defeats Ultrasound Bill
The Wyoming House on Tuesday voted 32-23 to reject a bill (HB 118) that would have required abortion providers in the state to inform a woman seeking an abortion 24 hours ahead of the procedure that she could view ultrasound images, the AP/NECN reports. Bill sponsor Rep. Bob Brechtel (R) said he wanted women seeking abortions to know about "the haunting question and the torture and pain that can be inflicted, especially during late-term abortions."
However, Rep. Sue Wallis (R) said, "If the intention is to offer women some information, why can't that be provided over the phone? Why can't that be provided on the day she travels across the state. It seems to me that the only reason that's put in place is to make it more difficult." NARAL Pro-Choice Wyoming Executive Director Sharon Breitweiser said the group is "delighted that the Legislature voted down this ill-conceived piece of legislation," adding, "We lobbied the way we always do, we relied on facts and reason, rather than trying to appeal to emotion" (AP/NECN, 1/25).