Why Insurance Coverage for Abortion Matters

Late Tuesday night, on March 29, 2011, Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) handed down an amendment to Delegate Terry’s Kilgore’s HB 2434 bill, which directed the Commonwealth to establish a health exchange in accordance with the federal health care legislation. The Governor’s amendment will restrict Virginia’s health insurance exchange from covering abortion services, except in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

Abortion is part of basic health care for women. For some that may seem like an odd thing to say.  Abortion has become such a hotly contested issue in this country that we’ve lost sight of the role abortion plays in women’s lives.  But if you stop and think about it, every woman’s situation is different and many things can go wrong in a pregnancy. Every woman deserves the opportunity to make the best decision for her circumstances, whether her decision is raising a child, adoption or abortion. No woman plans to have an abortion, but if she needs one, insurance should cover the procedure just as it covers all other pregnancy related care. 

Unfortunately, some politicians have introduced legislation that would make it harder for women to access the health care they need.  These measures have been proposed throughout the country, including here in Virginia, to prevent insurance companies from covering abortion care.  By introducing the amendment to HB 2434, the Governor reopens the debate on an issue that has already been addressed in the General Assembly.  HB 2147 and SB 1202, bills to ban abortion coverage in health insurance plans, were introduced at the start of session and received hearings.  Both bills were defeated in the Senate Education and Health committee.  These measures would have taken, and the amendment to HB 2434 could take away insurance coverage that millions of women currently have and make it difficult if not impossible for many women to take care of themselves and their families.

Virginia’s Governor continues to play politics with women’s health by amending HB 2434 to prohibit all insurance plans sold in Virginia under the new federal health care law from covering the cost of abortions.   The amendment also prohibits insurance companies from selling optional riders to cover abortion for those who decide to pay for it separately.  This means that women will be denied benefits that they are currently able to obtain through their private health insurance plans.

Abortion is a private personal decision that should be left to a woman and her partner in consultation with her doctor. It is not a decision for politicians to make. When a woman discovers something has gone wrong during her pregnancy, she should know that she can get safe, affordable medical care, including abortion. 

Insurance companies already recognize the need to provide for every scenario a pregnant woman may face. That’s why the majority of plans currently provide coverage for abortion care, just as they do for other pregnancy-related services like labor and delivery, prenatal care and care for miscarriages. One of the primary reasons to have health insurance in the first place is to make sure we can get the health care we need when something unexpected happens.

While we may not all feel the same way about abortion, we should all agree that women and their families should have access to safe and affordable health services. Abortion is a legal medical procedure. It is wrong for our government to take away insurance coverage for a legal medical procedure just because some people oppose it. When insurance companies choose to cover abortion, politicians shouldn’t interfere.

The General Assembly reconvenes on April 6, 2011 to consider the Governor’s amendments. 

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ I do believe the pro-forced-birthers are going to incite the mother of all atheist, feminist movements. They sure are glutton for it. ~

    ~ They are ruining what little nice reputation their anti-women’s-rights religion has. ~

  • crowepps

    Women who have begun a spontaneous abortion are routinely treated by having a suction evacuation abortion or a D&C abortion to ensure that the uterus is completely emptied so as to prevent infection.  These are sometimes done in a great hurry.   I know this, because it happened to me, twice.


    If the doctor is going to have to haggle with the insurance company about the REASON why this particular abortion is being done and whether or not it will be paid for, it’s going to affect patient care.  This law does not specifically allow coverage by insurance in cases where spontaneous abortion has already started and the surgical abortion is follow-up care.  Are women supposed to just miscarry at home and take their chances with infection?

  • elburto

    God will take care of it all! If a woman spontaneously aborts then the biggest abortionist of all, God himself, has decreed it his will and the woman will have to deal with the consequences as the sky daddy sees fit. Hmm.. you think this is why TheoCons hate abortion providers and keep trying to put them out of business, because they’re taking work away from the Theocon God?

  • crowepps

    This is just really incredible:  (Added bolding for emphasis)

       After experiencing contractions in the early hours of July 1, 2007, a 16-week-pregnant Morin went to the emergency room from her Millinocket home, more than an hour away…

       When it became apparent that the fetus did not have a heartbeat, ER doctor Paul Reinstein told her that the hospital could do nothing to help her and sent her home.
         Her complaint alleged that Roger asked what they should do with the remains of the baby and was told “just dispose of it.” When Roger became upset, Reinstein then threatened to call security and ejected the couple, the plaintiff claimed.
         Once home, Morin locked herself in her bathroom and gave birth to her dead son later that evening.
         Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) first challenged the award on the basis that  federal law permitted it to treat Morin with less care than a woman carrying a live baby.
        But U.S. District Judge John Woodcock said that was “morally questionable” as well as “legally wrong” under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.
         The judge referenced the District Court’s previous order, which noted that lawmakers who crafted the law did not intend “such a harsh and callous result” against women with nonviable fetuses.
      “The jury was fully capable of … finding that EMMC had discharged Ms. Morin while she was still having contractions, before she had delivered the fetus, and with a risk to her health and safety.” 

    Sounds to me like the hospital’s argument was if there was a live fetus they might have had to provide some care because a fetus ‘deserves’ care, but ‘unwed mothers’ sure aren’t entitled to any.

  • elburto

    That is sickening, that poor woman. She’s not an isolated case either. I was talking to someone yesterday who has been miscarrying for six weeks now. Six weeks of being reminded of her situation every time she goes to the toilet. No aspiration, no d&c, just “We can’t do anything, let nature take it’s course”.

    Something desperately needs to a done. When I tell people about the situation in the US they don’t believe me. Here in the UK a lot of older people still think America is this golden land of opportunity where everyone has access to big shiny hospitals, nobody goes hungry or poor.

    If I had the means or money I would honestly set up a charity to airlift women out of the country who need abortions or care like Morin needs.