Senate panel Oks bill to bar abortion coverage

A state Senate committee today approved a bill to ban abortion coverage from policies obtained through the federally-mandated health insurance exchanges that are to begin in 2014.

The bill passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Tuesday, 12-2. No public hearing was held.

“Under the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states have the authority to prohibit certain abortion coverage in these health plans and we intend to exercise that power,”said committee chairman Sen. Don White (R., Indiana). “This is not a new step for Pennsylvania, but rather an extension of the restrictions already in place for medical assistance and other taxpayer subsidized programs.”

Last year’s landmark federal health care law requires states to set up the exchanges to provide a marketplace where small businesses and individuals can buy coverage. Last year Gov. Corbett, as Pennsylvania attorney general, was one of the official in 20 states who sued the Obama administration to stop implementation of the health care bill.

Some abortion rights proponents say the measure would be "a step backwards" in reproductive health care because while federal law already restricts tax payer funded abortion, this bill would restrict abortion coverage in private policies. 

“All women deserve access to safe, legal, and critical care,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This bill is a form of discrimination against women who participate in the exchanges.”

Pennsylvania law allows exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, and an individual could still buy supplemental abortion coverage outside the exchange.




Click here for's politics page.