The Pennsylvania senate will soon consider a bill that would ban abortion coverage in any of the insurance plans in the state health care exchange, WHTM reports. The bill’s proponents refer to it as a safeguard against alleged taxpayer-funded abortion.
State Sen. Don White (R-Indiana), the sponsor of SB 3, said in a news release, “Under the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states have the authority to prohibit certain abortion coverage made available in these taxpayer subsidized health plans and we intend to exercise that authority. This is not a new step for Pennsylvania, but rather a continuation of existing law.”
“I want to make this clear, Senate Bill 3 does not ban abortions, nor does it bar insurance coverage offered in the private sector from covering abortions,” added White.
Although abortion coverage could theoretically be purchased separately and paid for out-of-pocket, it remains unclear how exactly that would happen. Kim Custer, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northeast, Mid-Penn and Bucks County, told the Morning Call that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for women to find additional out-of-pocket coverage for abortion and that “it’s not something women generally plan for.” Custer also pointed out that since the state exchanges are meant to set up separate accounts to pay for abortion coverage, White’s measure wasn’t necessary to avoid taxpayer funding of abortion.
White chairs the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, which passed the bill 8 to 5.
Pennsylvania is the latest state to explore curbing safe abortion access via state health exchanges and eliminating abortion coverage in insurance plans. Recently, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) introduced amendments to ban all abortion coverage in insurance plans, even if purchased out-of-pocket. Those amendments passed both the state house and senate.