Virginia Senate passes bill to repeal ban on abortion coverage for health insurance plans

Capitol Connection

Virginia State Capitol (Photo: 8News)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Today the Senate of Virginia passed a bill that would remove the ban on abortion coverage for health insurance plans offered in Virginia through the health benefits exchange.

SB1276 would make Virginia the first state in the South to end these restrictions on abortion access, according to a statement from Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), who introduced the legislation.

The bill passed by a 20-17 margin.

“Today, Virginia moved one step closer to ending an unnecessary law that restricts Virginians’ reproductive health care options,” Sen. McClellan said in a statement. “Virginians deserve to be able to choose whatever health plan meets their needs, but that option is not available to Virginians covered by the exchange.”

Today, Jan. 22, is also the 48th anniversary of Roe. vs. Wade, the Supreme Court Ruling that determined the constitution protects a woman’s right to get an abortion without excessive restrictions from the government.

In a hearing earlier this week, Sen. McLellan said removing the prohibition would not lead to taxpayers paying for abortions. However, Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, disagrees.

“While SB 1276 doesn’t require that plans cover abortion yet, it is only a matter of time before our taxes are being used to cover other people’s abortions in future plans.” Turner said in a statement.  “All Virginians, regardless of their position on the legality of abortion, should be disturbed by this change in the law.”

VSHL said they also disagree with this bill because it will be hard for people who have “ethical objections” to abortions to find state-run plans that don’t cover them.

The next step is for the passage of its companion bill in the House. HB1896 was introduced by Del. Sally Hudson (D).

“Repealing the ban is long overdue, but it’s urgent now with so many workers having lost their jobs and seeking coverage on the state exchange,” Hudson said.

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