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Va. Legislature Approves Ban on Abortion Coverage in New Health Insurance Marketplace

Va. Legislature Approves Ban on Abortion Coverage in New Health Insurance Marketplace

April 4, 2013 — The Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday voted to approve Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) amendment that would ban most abortion coverage in private health plans sold through the state's federally run health insurance marketplace, NBC Washington's "First Read - DMV" reports (Carey, "First Read - DMV," NBC4 Washington, 4/3).

Last month, McDonnell proposed attaching the amendment to two identical bills that will establish a framework for operating the health insurance marketplace, which is being established under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/28).

The House voted 55-37 and the Senate voted 20-19 to adopt the amendment (AP/Washington Post, 4/3). The General Assembly had reconvened for a one-day session to consider legislation vetoed or amended by the governor.

Senate Democrats attempted to derail the measure procedurally, arguing that it was overly broad and not closely related to the underlying bill. However, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) -- head of the Senate -- ruled that the amendment was germane (Whack/Kunkle, Washington Post, 4/3).

Reaction

Delegate Charniele Herring -- chair of the state's Democratic Party -- called the bill "the latest example of Virginia Republicans injecting themselves into decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor." She added that lawmakers "have no place banning any Virginian from purchasing coverage for legal health care procedures with their own money" ("First Read - DMV," NBC4 Washington, 4/3).

Planned Parenthood also criticized the measure for inhibiting women's ability to purchase health care plans that provide a "full range of reproductive health care" (Washington Post, 4/3).

Republicans argued that taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidize abortion. However, Democrats countered that the amendment would restrict plans Virginia residents would purchase themselves ("First Read - DMV," NBC4 Washington, 4/3).