The Virginia House and Senate voted Wednesday to ban abortion coverage in insurance plans sold through the health care exchange that will be set up in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." The amendment was proposed by the state's governor, Bob McDonnell.
Senate Democrats were hoping to block the measure, but failed when two Democrats joined Republicans to move the amendment forward, according to NBC Washington.
The state had already passed a similar amendment in 2011 but a new amendment was necessary because Virginia opted to let the federal government set up the exchange rather than set up the exchange itself. The amendment was added to bills setting up state oversight of the exchanges.
The amendment reads: "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, regardless of whether such coverage is provided through the plan or is offered as a separate optional rider thereto … ."
"Governor McDonnell has always maintained a pro-life stance," said Jeff Caldwell, a spokesman for McDonnell. "These amendments continue a policy established by the General Assembly in 2011 when it passed initial legislation to govern the possibility of a state-run health exchange. While Virginia has now notified the federal government that it will participate in a federal exchange, the policy toward restricting federal funding from paying for abortions as part of this exchange has not changed."
Delegate & Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Charniele Herring called the amendment "extreme" and complained that Virginia Republicans were "injecting themselves into decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor."
Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization that lobbied for the amendment, called on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe to state his position on the measure.
"Virginia voters deserve to know where Terry McAuliffe stands on taxpayer funding of abortion. This commonsense amendment was opposed by his top political allies, Planned Parenthood and NARAL. The voters deserve to know if he stands with them, or with the big abortion lobby," SBA List said in a press release.
According to SBA List's Charlotte Lozier Institute, at least 20 states have now banned abortion coverage in their health care exchanges.