April 25, 2013 — The Pennsylvania House on Tuesday voted 144-53 to approve a measure (HB 818) that would prohibit abortion coverage in private health plans purchased through the state's insurance marketplace, which is being created under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The bill would permit health plans to cover abortions in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's life is in danger.
A Senate committee recently passed a companion measure (SB 3), which must advance through a second committee before it can proceed to the full Senate.
Supporters of the bill contended it would ensure that tax money would not subsidize abortions, while opponents criticized the measure for restricting coverage in private health plans that women purchase with private money (Giammarise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/24).
State Rep. Dan Frankel (D) said, "It is clear to me that Commonwealth funds will not go to fund abortion access within the exchange regardless of whether or not this legislation passes."
Meanwhile, state Rep. Matt Baker (R) -- who voted in support of the measure -- claimed that "[e]very plan offered through the exchange benefits some way from public funding" (Romeo, CBS Philly, 4/24).
Supporters also argued that the bill would not prohibit women from purchasing abortion coverage separately.
However, Andy Hoover -- legislative director for ACLU of Pennsylvania -- said that "those types of policies don't exist. And abortion inherently is unplanned" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/24).