Private insurers can't cover abortions in Virginia

Private insurance plans in Virginia are now banned from covering abortions if they participate in the state's healthcare exchange.

After Virginia legislators passed a bill that would create the health insurance exchange, which is mandated under the federal health reform law, Gov. Robert McDonnell amended it to include anti-abortion language. Under his revision, plans that offer abortion coverage except for cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger may not be offered through the exchange, reports the Washington Times. McDonnell argued that the wording mirrors the language of the federal Hyde amendment, which details the circumstances under which federal taxpayer money can be used to fund abortion.

The House voted 61 to 36 to accept the governor's amendments, but it only passed the Senate after a tie-breaking vote from Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the Washington Times notes.

The healthcare overhaul law allows the exchanges to cover abortions as long as they collect a separate premium from policyholders and that money is kept apart from federal subsidies. It also allows states to deny that coverage, according to Forbes.

Virginia joins at least seven other states that have passed bans on coverage of abortion in state healthcare exchanges, notes the New York Times. The bill is an effort by the state to remain compliant with the federal law, despite a suit it has filed that challenges the law's constitutionality.

To learn more:
- see the New York Times piece
- read the Washington Times article
- check out the Forbes story