Va. Amendment Barring Health Care Exchange Plans From Covering Abortions Approved

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's controversial amendment to bar health insurance plans sold through a federal exchange from covering most abortions won approval from both the House and Senate in the General Assembly's one-day, reconvened session.

Senate Democrats had hoped to block the measure and thought they had the votes to do it in the evenly divided chamber but fell one vote short when two Democrats broke ranks.

"This extreme measure is the latest example of Virginia Republicans injecting themselves into decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor," said a statement from Delegate & Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria. "Bob McDonnell and his Republican allies have no place banning any Virginian from purchasing coverage for legal health care procedures with their own money."

Gov. McDonnell made his amendment to a bill that laid out guidelines for health care exchanges that will be part of the federal Affordable Care Act, often dubbed "Obamacare." Virginians who are not covered by private or employer-sponsored health care plans would be eligible to buy reduced cost plans offered through the health care exchanges. The governor's amendment would bar those plans offered to Virginians from covering most abortion services.

In supporting the amendment, Republicans reasoned it upheld a long standing policy not to use taxpayer funds for abortion.

"Virginia has prohibited taxpayer-funded abortions since 1982 and taxpayers should not have to pay for abortions," argued Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City.

But Democrats countered that Virginians will be paying for the plans.

"This amendment puts the state in a business decision of a private insurance provider even though that medical decision is legal," said Delegate Jennifer McClellan.

Follow Julie Carey on Twitter at @JulieCareyNBC

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