June 19, 2013 — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) on Monday signed into law a bill (HB 818) that prohibits private health plans offered through the state's health insurance marketplace from covering most abortions, the AP/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (Levy, AP/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/17).
The bill would permit health plans to cover abortions in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's life is in danger. Before approving the bill earlier this month, the state Senate rejected two amendments that would have eased the bill's restrictions, including one that would have created an exception when an abortion is necessary to avoid a medical emergency (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/7). Like in the Senate, the bill passed in the state House with bipartisan support.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Pennsylvania becomes the 21st state to ban abortion coverage in private plans sold through the insurance marketplaces, created under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148).
Christine Cronkright -- a spokesperson for Corbett -- said, "We believe [the bill] safeguards taxpayer dollars, while also not placing any new restrictions on access to or payment for care than already exists under [Pennsylvania] and federal law."
Andy Hoover -- legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania -- said the law "is a new frontier in restricting women's health care in Pennsylvania," adding, "The state has never before prohibited a private insurance company from covering abortion for a private customer when the customer pays with their own money" (AP/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/17).
The organization also dismissed as "ludicrous" House Republican leaders' assertion that the law helps "protect taxpayer dollars" from funding abortion (Worden, "Commonwealth Confidential," Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/17).