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Pa. Senate OKs Bill To Limit Abortion Coverage

Pa. Senate OKs Bill To Limit Abortion Coverage

The state Senate on Tuesday approved a bill to ban abortion coverage from policies obtained through health insurance exchanges that are to begin in 2014 under last year’s landmark federal health care law , a move that opponents say is a planned attack on legal abortion in Pennsylvania.

The bill, which passed 37-12, goes to the House of Representatives. Senators did not debate the measure before voting Tuesday, although in comments on the Senate floor later, Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, said the bill is meant to stop women in Pennsylvania from getting a legal abortion.

“It is supposed to make it as difficult as possible,” Farnese said.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services has said the step is allowed under the law, but some abortion rights proponents say federal law already restricts taxpayer funding for abortion coverage, and that this bill goes farther by restricting abortion coverage in private policies.

“This is not a new or radical step for Pennsylvania, but rather an extension of the restrictions we already have in place for (Medicaid) and other taxpayer-subsidized programs,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Don White, R-Indiana.

The federal law requires states to set up the exchanges to provide a marketplace where small businesses and individuals can buy coverage. The bill doesn’t stop someone from buying supplemental abortion coverage outside the exchange, although the bill’s opponents say such policies don’t exist and are unlikely to be offered by insurance companies.

White maintains that taxpayer dollars are required to set up and regulate the exchanges, making the sale of insurance policies that cover abortion tantamount to taxpayer funding for abortions.

The bill would allow the insurance plans to cover the procedure in cases involving rape, incest or when the life of the woman is in danger, as well as treatment of any post-abortion complication.

A number of other states are considering identical or similar bills, while at least five others , Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and North Dakota , have approved one.



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