Senate Republicans Force Abortion Ban on Virginia Women

RICHMOND, VA — Over the vocal objections of Virginia women, Senate Republicans voted for Governor McDonnell's proposal to ban nearly all abortion coverage from Virginia's health insurance exchange, part of the Affordable Care Act.

The Governor's amendment to SB 921 places an unprecedented restriction on private transactions, and even bars women from seeking a separate abortion coverage policy.

Senator Barbara A. Favola (D-Arlington) said, "This puts big government in the middle of Virginians personal decisions. I find it very disturbing that one single health benefit is being singled out by the Governor. This demeaning public policy will deny women abortion coverage in the federal health care exchange, and even if you are not receiving any subsidies, you will be unable to purchase abortion coverage through a separate rider."

Senator Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) said, "I urge the members to reject the Governor's proposal. The Affordable Care Act is an historic opportunity to expand coverage. The Affordable Care Act should not be used as a vehicle to take away coverage that women currently have. Most women already have health insurance that includes abortion. Women should be able to make their own health care decisions without interference from politicians in the state capitol."

Senator Ralph S. Northam (D-Norfolk) said, "The purpose of this amendment is blatantly obvious: it’s meant to decrease women’s access to reproductive health care. There's no other purpose to it. And if we go down this road, it could take us back to the days before Roe vs. Wade. You can just look at the history books to learn that women were getting abortions; unsafe, back-alley abortions in unsterile environments with unsterile instruments. I strongly encourage everyone to vote 'no.' "

Senator John S. Edwards (D-Roanoke) said, "The right of contract is a fundamental right of individuals. We have the right to sign whatever contracts we see fit, including health insurance. This amendment would say that an individual cannot enter into a private agreement with a health insurance company to do something that is perfectly legal in this country. This is a political statement. That’s all. If this were a real bill, we would work it over in committee and fix it. But it’s not serious; we know why it’s here, and it should have no place in Virginia."

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