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Virginia Governor Proposes Amendment to Strip Abortion Coverage From State Exchange Insurance Plans

Robin Marty

Now the governor of Virginia doesn't even want to allow women to pay for abortion coverage out of pocket.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has followed through on his plan to eliminate abortion coverage from the state insurance exchange, even if women choose to purchase it separately with their own money. The Republican governor has added amendments to both the state house and senate insurance reform bills—amendments that would strip away a woman’s ability to use her own money to decide what health options she wants covered in her personal insurance plan in order to placate anti-choice activists.

Caroline O’Shea, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said in a statement that the amendment is a move to “advance an extreme anti-choice agenda.”

“With this amendment, Gov. McDonnell is once again attempting to intrude in women’s health-care decisions and block Virginians access to the critical medical care they need,” said O’Shea. “Coverage for safe, legal abortion care—a procedure an estimated one in three women will access in their lifetimes—is a basic benefit that most insurance plans currently include. By banning women from using their own funds to purchase plans that include this common benefit, Gov. McDonnell is restricting Virginians’ personal economic decisions as well as their access to comprehensive care.”

A coalition of pro-choice action groups in the state also spoke out against the amendment. “This amendment denies private insurance companies the ability to supply, and individuals the right to demand, comprehensive health care,” said Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, in a statement. “Taking away insurance coverage for a legal medical procedure that most plans have covered for years leaves women in a dangerous situation if they find themselves in need of serious medical care resulting from complex and sometimes life-threatening pregnancies. If insurance companies already provide basic benefits, politicians shouldn’t interfere.”

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The amendment represents the latest anti-choice political action from a governor who spent the 2012 legislative session championing forced transvaginal ultrasounds. Virginia continues to be embroiled in controversy this year over a law that could force many of the abortion clinics in the state to close if they cannot afford unnecessary construction changes to their facilities.

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