Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is pushing stringent legislation that would prevent insurance companies in the state’s healthcare exchange program from covering abortions.
According to The Huffington Post
, the measure is similar to bills banning coverage in other states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures. But McDonnell’s amendment goes a step further. It would also prevent women from purchasing a separate abortion rider from insurance companies that would cover the procedure.
“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,” the amendment reads, “regardless of whether such coverage is provided through the plan or is offered as a separate optional rider thereto.”
Women who have become pregnant from rape or incest or whose lives are in danger, however, would be exempt from the ban.
McDonnell, a Republican, had reportedly been under increasing pressure from anti-abortion groups and conservative state legislators to offer the measure.
According to the Post, GOP lawmaker Bob Marshall sent an email to his supporters last week saying, “If Gov. McDonnell does not hear from many principled pro-lifers like yourself, he may continue to do nothing to protect our conscience from the [Health and Human Services Department] Mandate or to prohibit abortion coverage in health exchanges.”
Most private health insurance plans in the United States include abortion coverage and pro-choice advocates were quick to criticize the governor.
“With this amendment, Governor McDonnell has launched yet another effort to intrude in women’s health care decisions and block Virginians access to comprehensive reproductive health care,” Caroline O’Shea, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said in a statement.
NARAL estimates that McDonnell’s ban will affect some 50,000 women in the state.
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