Virginia Legislature Removes Abortion Funding From Obamacare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 7, 2011   |   11:39AM   |   Richmond, VA

The Virginia legislature has approved an amendment pro-life Gov. Bob McDonnell added to a health care bill that allows the state to opt out of the abortion funding in the Obamacare health care bill.

Two Democrats, Sens. Charles J. Colgan and Phillip Puckett, joined the 18 Republicans in the state Senate to sign off on the amendment. With the 20-20 tie, pro-life Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling broke the tie by voting in favor of the amendment.

Last week, McDonnell used the power of his office to add a line to a bill the legislature passed concerning the exchanges. 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 took advantage of that provision to add language to Delegate Terry Kilgore’s HB 2434 similar to a bill to ban the abortion funding that the legislature defeated during the session. The governor’s amendment restricts Virginia’s health insurance exchanges from covering abortion services except in very rare instances.

Leading pro-life organizations supported the amendment and the Virginia Society for Human Life told LifeNews it was pleased with the vote.

The group said, “Today the members of the General Assembly voted to support an important amendment sent down from the Governor regarding abortion funding in the health care exchange to be offered in Virginia under the new Federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The amendment would prohibit the funding of abortion through the exchange except to save the life of the mother and because of rape or incest as consistent with federal law.”

“Virginia Society for Human Life is pleased that our pro-life Governor, Bob McDonnell and the members of the General Assembly who voted for this amendment have recognized what most Virginians agree on regarding abortion funding. Most Americans and Virginians do not want to see their own money used to fund abortion.  This effort on the part of Governor Bob McDonnell clearly reflects his intention to respect the will of the majority of Virginians on these critical life and death issues,” the organization added.

The Family Foundation of Virginia, another pro-life organization, also supported the amendment.

“McDonnell handed down a pro-life amendment that The Family Foundation had been strongly urging,” Victoria Cobb, the president of the Family Foundation, told LifeNews before the vote. 

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.

Other states such as South Carolina are working on similar legislation.