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Gov. McDonnell's abortion coverage ban
- Read our press statement about the passage of this amendment.
- Find out how your legislators voted and contact them about their vote.
Myth: The Governor's amendment is about keeping taxpayer money from paying for abortion and isn’t a change from the status quo.
Truth: The claim that this abortion coverage ban is about keeping public money from subsidizing abortion coverage is 100% false. Individuals are already prohibited from using government subsidy to purchase insurance plans that include abortion coverage under federal law. Gov. McDonnell's abortion coverage ban would broadly prohibit private insurance companies and Virginians or small businesses participating in the exchange from offering or buying comprehensive coverage, even with their own segregated private money. It will prohibit thousands of Virginians from choosing to enroll in an insurance plan that includes comprehensive reproductive health care coverage. This is an ideological attack on reproductive health coverage for a wide range of Virginia women that will make it more difficult and expensive for them to access care.
- Prevent women from using their private money to purchase an insurance plan within the exchange that provides coverage for abortion. Under the ACA, individuals are already prohibited from using federal subsidies to purchase plans with abortion coverage (see facts on the ACA and abortion coverage below). Unlike federal law and many other states’ laws, Gov. McDonnell’s amendment would also prohibit women from purchasing a separate additional policy "rider” with their own funds to provide coverage for abortion care.
- Rob women purchasing plans through the exchange of a basic health insurance benefit most consumers with private plans currently have. The health insurance exchange system is intended to be a marketplace that will make it easier for consumers who may currently be uninsured or underinsured to find and purchase affordable private health insurance for themselves and their families. Gov. McDonnell’s amendment will block these Virginians from the option to purchase insurance that includes abortion coverage, a standard benefit currently included in the majority of private insurance plans. It will block, instead of facilitate, better access to comprehensive health insurance coverage.
- Ban insurance coverage for abortion in cases where a woman faces a severe and totally-incapacitating fetal anomaly. If a Virginia woman with insurance purchased through the exchange receives a tragic diagnosis that something has gone terribly wrong in her pregnancy, she would not have health insurance coverage if she chose to end her pregnancy. She and her family would be forced to either come up with money to pay out-of-pocket for a potentially very costly procedure or carry a severely-incapacitated fetus to term and face the associated health risks and emotional and financial hardships.
- Ban insurance coverage for abortion in cases where continuing a pregnancy poses a serious threat to a woman’s health. Although McDonnell’s amendment does allow plans to include coverage for abortion in the case of a "life-endangering” situation, in practice this exception is very narrow. Many women facing dangerous pregnancy complications or risks to their long-term health would still not have coverage, putting their health at risk.
FACT: Virginia law already prohibits state health insurance coverage for elective abortions except in cases of rape/incest, fetal abnormality or when a woman’s life is in jeopardy.
FACT: The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, does not require any state (including Virginia) to change its current bans on abortion coverage for women who have state health insurance. The ACA specifically states: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to preempt or otherwise have any effect on State laws regarding the prohibition of (or requirement of) coverage, funding, or procedural requirements on abortions, including parental notification or consent for the performance of an abortion on a minor.”
FACT: Even if Virginia didn't already have these bans, the ACA explicitly prohibits any federal funds from being used to pay for abortion coverage in exchanges - with limited exceptions for cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest.
FACT: If private - not public - money is used to pay for abortion through the exchanges, the ACA still requires insurers to keep these private dollars completely separate from all federal funds (including federal subsidies), so public money is not involved in paying for any abortion services beyond cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. Individuals who receive government subsidies can enroll in plans that cover abortion services, but none of the subsidies can go towards abortion coverage, with exceptions only for cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. Only private dollars can be used to pay for coverage of abortion services that fall outside of those limited exceptions.
FACT: Contrary to what anti-choice politicians often claim, a federal appeals court recently confirmed that no public dollars will flow toward abortion services under the ACA. "The express language of the [ACA] does not provide for tax-payer funded abortion," the court wrote. "That is a fact, and it is clear on its face."