Virginia Gov. Eliminates Abortion Coverage from Exchange Bill

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is attempting to ban state health insurance exchanges, which were founded by the federal government under the health reform legislation, from covering the practice of abortion.

The governor made changes to a bill, which had passed through the state legislature, designed to outline the steps Virginia needed to take to create state health care exchanges in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act. The bill had passed easily through Virginia’s General Assembly, 95-3 in the State House and 37-1 in the State Senate. When the bill came to the governor, McDonnell added in new portions which were designed to keep private health care plans from covering abortion, unless it was an issue where the life of the mother was in danger or if the pregnancy was the result of an instance of rape or incest.

Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973, but states still have the right to amend laws which limit the access that women have to these kinds of procedures. Some states require parental or spousal consent, others limit the kinds of abortions offered (such as the controversial “partial birth” or late term abortion), while others place few limitations on the procedure at all.

Governor McDonnell had not advertised his amendments to the bill, but they were announced publicly by the Family Foundation once it had been done.

“Without a change like the government’s amendment, pro-life citizens opposed to abortion will be mandated to fund this unethical destruction of human life,” stated Family Foundation president Victoria Cobb. Mrs. Cobb is the wife of  Matt Cobb, who is Governor McDonnell’s Health and Human Resources deputy secretary.

Health insurance exchanges were designed to bring a level of competition into the health care insurance market, ostensibly by allowing individuals and smaller businesses to essentially “comparison shop” for coverage with better prices and more options. These exchanges are crucial components to the federal health reforms initiated by President Obama, and stipulated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Governor McConnell also added in another amendment to the same bill which stated that the legislation shouldn’t be construed  to imply that the state recognizes the constitutional validity of the PPACA, which is currently being challenged in court.