Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell used the power of his office today to add a line to a bill the legislature passed concerning the state health insurance exchanges created under Obamacare to remove abortion funding from it.
When Congress passed and Obama signed the legislation for the federal government program, the bill contained numerous loopholes allowing for taxpayer funding of abortions under the law. However, it did contain a provision allowing states to opt out of using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions in their state exchanges.
McDonnell’s is taking advantage of that provision to add language to Delegate Terry Kilgore’s HB 2434 directing the Commonwealth to set up health exchanges in accordance with the federal health insurance overhaul that did not contain the abortion funding ban. The legislature defeated a bill to ban the abortion funding under the state exchanges and, next Wednesday, according to the Associated Press, lawmakers will vote on whether to accept the changes McDonnell made.
McDonnel’s amendment restricts Virginia’s health insurance exchanges from covering abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother, which conforms to federal law.
Victoria Cobb, the president of the Family Foundation, a pro-life group, told LifeNews she is delighted McDonnell moved to stop abortion funding.
“McDonnell handed down a pro-life amendment that The Family Foundation had been strongly urging,” she said. “Without a change like the Government’s amendment, pro-life citizens opposed to abortion will be mandated to fund this unethical destruction of human life.”
Cobb previewed the upcoming and past battles over abortion funding.
“Now, the General Assembly must accept the Governor’s amendment at next Wednesday’s veto session. During this year’s General Assembly session, similar health insurance abortion funding opt-out language was passed by the House of Delegates twice with overwhelming majorities, but was defeated in the Senate,” she explained. “Actually, a procedural vote was taken at the end of session to strike a bill almost identical to the Government’s language, and the senate vote unfortunately fell 22-18 on party lines. Since the Governor’s language is strictly a policy vote, not a procedural vote, we hope to urge at least two pro-life Democrats to support the amendment.”
“And that is really where the battle lies. Regardless of what actions are taken by the Governor, the state Senate has been the body that has blocked nearly every pro-life effort for several years,” she said.
Cobb promised her group would be mobilizing pro-life advocates to flood the legislature with calls and emails supporting the amendment.
“Over the next week, we will be mobilizing citizens across Virginia to contact key Senators to make sure they know the citizens of Virginia want this amendment passed,” she said.
Senators Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell) are seen as the senators who may be the key in deciding the vote.
ACTION: Contact members of the Virginia legislature by going to https://legis.state.va.us/