West Virginia Cmte OKs Bill to Remove Abortion From Obamacare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 16, 2011   |   6:40PM   |   Charleston, WV

A West Virginia state House committee today approved a bill to make it so no health insurance policy, public or private, could cover abortions.

The legislation, endorsed by the House Banking and Insurance Committee today, would require women to seek supplemental policies if they want to have coverage for abortions paid for at the expense of policy holders. Separate premiums would have to be paid for the abortions.

The ban extends to the proposed insurance coverage ban to the state exchanges the Obamacare legislation would set up because the funding for abortions would come at taxpayer expense through the exchanges, which would be funded with federal subsidies. The bill also applies the insurance coverage funding ban to Medicaid, but abortion advocates say a 1993 state Supreme Court ruling struck down a Medicaid abortion funding ban as unconstitutional.

The bill, according to the Associated Press, now heads to the House Finance Committee for approval before it goes to the full state House floor.

West Virginians for Life is pushing for the legislation and Vicky Covert, a spokeswoman for the group, said the bill ensures pro-life people don’t have to pay for abortions and should reduce premiums for everyone.

“We’re saying, ‘Don’t make me pay for it if I don’t want those services,'” Covert said

But Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of West Virginia FREE, opposed the bill saying women don’t plan ahead to pay for abortions.

The measure extends to group and individual plans and those insured by the plans on the state exchanges would get a notice annually about the need to purchase abortion coverage if they wanted it, according to AP.

Under the new health care law, states will be in charge of their own health care exchanges that are available for individuals and small businesses.The exchange doesn’t go into effect until 2014 and states are filing lawsuits seeking to stop the pro-abortion health care bill in its other pro-abortion provisions entirety, but states are moving now to exercise their right to opt out of some of the abortion funding.

Denise Burke, an attorney with Americans United for Life, has explained the opt out clause contained in the Obamacare bill, which otherwise fails to contain sufficient limits on abortion funding.

“Specifically, the new law prohibits health insurers participating in the state-run health insurance exchange (scheduled to go into effect in 2014) from offering plans or policies that cover abortions except in rare cases in which the mother’s life is in danger,” she said.

She said the day after Congress passed the health care reform legislation, AUL made its “Federal Abortion-Mandate Opt-Out Act” available to lawmakers in all 50 states.

“We continue to work with dozens of states that are considering opt-out legislation either this year or when their legislative sessions reconvene in 2011,” she said.

There were 1,982 abortions done in West Virginia in 2008.

When Congress passed the government-run health care bill, it did so without any limits on abortion funding and language mandating taxpayer financing of abortion in certain circumstances.

Obama eventually issued a controversial executive order supposedly taking the abortion funding issue off the table.

However, virtually every pro-life group said it would not mitigate the abortion funding because it doesn’t have the effect of law, could be reversed in the future, and because it didn’t tackle much of the abortion funding in the bill. The Obama administration could also ignore the order and not put it in place when the health care law goes into effect.

Arizona, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Louisiana have passed similar bills that have already been signed into law by governors in those states and several other states are expected to consider legislation in their upcoming legislative sessions. Governors in Oklahoma and Florida vetoed similar legislation.