VIRGINIA

Abortion bill blocks coverage in health care exchange

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A nighttime vote in Virginia’s General Assembly has reignited the fiery debate over abortion rights in the Commonwealth. The newest law denies insurance coverage of abortions to those who buy their insurance through Virginia’s federally-funded health insurance exchange.

The House passed the measure by a vote of 55 to 37, while the vote in the Senate was much closer, just 20 to 19.

Governor Bob McDonnell is known for his strong opposition to abortion and he got a big win for the cause in Richmond Wednesday night, a win pro-abortion rights advocates call a loss for the Commonwealth.

“I see this as the governor imposing his political ideology,” says Del. Kaye Kory, (D-Falls Church).

Kory says the amendment is discriminatory against women, specifically the poor.

“They’re the ones who are going to suffer and perhaps seek out some of the unsafe methods that people used to get abortions in the seventies,” Del. Kory says.

The amendment prohibits abortions from being covered by a health insurance plan if the plan is set up through the federal health exchange, set to take effect next year as part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Abortions would be covered in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother’s health is in danger.

“The amendment is very much a priority for us. It is the most important pro-life vote of this session,” says Olivia Gas Turner, president of the Virginia Society of Human Life.

The decision comes one year after Governor McDonnell pushed through a controversial bill requiring women to go through an ultrasound procedure before getting an abortion.

Anti-abortion supports agree federal funding and abortion do not mix.

“No, because it’s a life and you’re taking it away and God didn’t create life to take it away. That’s His choice,” says Christy Shiflett of Annandale.

Others say it should remain a woman’s choice, regardless of circumstances.

“The people on Medicaid should not be denied because of economics or moral grounds,” says David Brown of Falls Church.

The following statements, in part, were released Thursday:

"... A woman should be able to make personal decisions about her health care without the interference of politicians, and her health coverage should enable her to take care of her health and well being." - Cianti Stewart-Reid, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.

"Now, Virginia women will lose access to the full range of reproductive health services negating the promises of the Affordable Care Act, which included historic health care benefits for women."  - Dr. Laura Meyers, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.

"This ban will adversely affect women in Virginia because it prohibits them from receiving complete reproductive health care insurance coverage. Abortion care is basic health care for women and should be included in the federal health exchange in Virginia." -  Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation.

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