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Virginia General Assembly Approves Gov. McDonnell's Abortion Coverage Ban in State Health Benefits Exchange
In a significant blow to Virginia women's reproductive health care access, the General Assembly has approved Governor McDonnell's amendment to block private insurance plans being sold through the new health benefits exchange from including coverage for abortion care. The Virginia Senate passed the amendment with a vote of 20-19 in favor of the ban. The Virginia House of Delegates had approved the amendment earlier in the day by a vote of 55-37.
Governor McDonnell proposed the amendments to SB921/HB1900, legislation to implement Virginia's participation in the health care exchange system as set out under the Affordable Care Act. This abortion coverage ban goes beyond restricting coverage for those using government subsidies for insurance and will ban an estimated 50,000 Virginians from purchasing comprehensive health care through the exchange using their own funds.
Caroline O'Shea, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, strongly condemned the amendment's passage:
"In approving Governor McDonnell’s abortion coverage ban, 20 senators and 55 delegates have put an anti-choice ideology before Virginia women's health, personal liberty, and economic freedom. Because of this amendment, tens of thousands of Virginians using the health care exchange will be prohibited from buying insurance that covers their full range of reproductive health care needs, even if they use their own money.
Yet again, Governor McDonnell and anti-choice politicians in the General Assembly are imposing their extreme agenda through insidious laws that attack women’s rights and health care access. Virginians are tired of politicians who think they know better than women about what personal decisions are best for themselves and their families.
Abortion is part of basic comprehensive reproductive health care coverage and is currently included in the majority of private insurance plans. The health benefits exchange is intended to help more consumers find and purchase the affordable health care coverage they need. Today, the General Assembly has blatantly undermined that goal by prohibiting thousands of Virginians from choosing to buy truly comprehensive plans. This ban puts Virginia women’s health and families’ financial stability at risk by denying insurance coverage for abortion care even in tragic cases of severe fetal anomaly or danger to a woman’s health.
NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia joins our thousands of member-activists throughout the commonwealth in expressing outrage at this amendment’s passage and thanking the Virginia lawmakers who were brave enough to stand for women's health today. We are particularly grateful to pro-choice leaders like Sen. Barbara Favola, who led her colleagues in the fight against this extreme measure.
We will continue making sure Virginians are aware of these attacks on their reproductive freedom and health care – and that they know which politicians to hold accountable at the polls this November.”