McDonnell amendment bans abortion from state health exchange

bob-mcdonnell-linksAn amendment from Gov. Bob McDonnell would prevent insurance plans in the new state health exchange being created under the Affordable Care Act from covering women seeking abortions.

“No qualified health insurance plan that is sold or offered for sale through an exchange established or operating in the Commonwealth shall provide coverage for abortions, regardless of whether such coverage is provided through the plan or is offered as a separate optional rider thereto,” the text of the amendment reads.

Women who have become pregnant from rape or incest or whose lives are in danger would be exempt from the ban.

The amendment, which will be considered by the General Assembly at its reconvened session next week, would impact an estimated 50,000 women in Virginia, according to NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, which joined a number of pro-choice groups in decrying the move by McDonnell.

“With this amendment, Gov. McDonnell has launched yet another effort to intrude in women’s health care decisions and block Virginians access to comprehensive reproductive health care,” said Caroline O’Shea, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, in a statement.

“Coverage for safe, legal abortion care – a procedure one in three women will access in their lifetimes – is a basic benefit that most insurance plans currently include. By banning women from using their own funds to purchase plans that include this common benefit, Gov. McDonnell is restricting Virginians’ personal economic decisions as well as their access to comprehensive care,” O’Shea said.

“This is Republican hypocrisy put into practice again,” said State Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) in a statement. “Gov. McDonnell is intruding into the world of the private market place and contracts by mandating what individuals and private insurance companies can agree to cover.  He’s is overreaching yet again on social issues.”

“Women who want the option of abortion coverage and are able to pay for such an option with private dollars will be denied this service as a result of the governor’s action,” said State Seb, Barbara Favola (D-Arlington). “We cannot permit this right-wing ideology to dictate personal medical decisions. It is very demeaning to women, to their physicians, and to all Virginians.  Virginians do not want a woman’s constitutionally protected liberties to be infringed upon by politicians – when that happens everybody’s liberties are at risk.”

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