Virginia law complicates abortion issue

April 7, 2011 at 8:48 AM
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RICHMOND, Va., April 7 (UPI) -- Virginia lawmakers have passed an amendment that would complicate insurance coverage for women seeking an abortion, opponents of the measure said.

Gov. Bob McDonnell's amendment bans private insurance plans from covering abortions if they participate in a state healthcare exchange under President Obama's new healthcare law, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The Virginia House and Senate passed McDonnell's amendment Wednesday. It says no insurance plan sold as a component in the state healthcare exchange can cover abortion except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother's life.

McDonnell opposes abortion and he recently signed another bill imposing increased requirements on abortion clinics, something abortion rights advocates said would result in two-thirds of the state's abortion clinics closing.

At least seven states have now passed bans on coverage of abortion in state healthcare exchanges. Coverage for low-income women is restricted under the 1977 Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds from paying for abortion.

Abortion rights activists say the scenario makes it more difficult than ever for poor women to receive abortions.

"This affects a much broader segment of women," said Tarina Keene, executive director of Naral Pro-Choice Virginia. "What is next?"

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