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Va. Gov. Proposes Ban on Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Exchange

Va. Gov. Proposes Ban on Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Exchange

March 28, 2013 — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has introduced an amendment that would prohibit abortion coverage in health plans sold through the state's federally run health insurance exchange, the AP/Washington Times reports (Lewis, AP/Washington Times, 3/26).

McDonnell proposed attaching the amendment to two identical bills that will establish a framework for how an exchange will operate in the state. The state Legislature will consider the amendment when it reconvenes on April 3 (Vozzella, Washington Post, 3/26).

The amendment also would bar insurers from offering the coverage as separate, optional riders to health plans. Insurers would be permitted to cover abortions in cases of rape and incest or when the procedure is needed to save a woman's life (AP/Washington Times, 3/26).

Jeff Caldwell, a spokesperson for McDonnell, said the amendment "continue[s] a policy established by the General Assembly in 2011 when it passed initial legislation to govern the possibility of a state-run health exchange."

Caroline O'Shea, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said, "By banning women from using their own funds to purchase plans that include this common benefit, Governor McDonnell is restricting Virginians' personal economic decisions as well as their access to comprehensive care" (Washington Post, 3/26).