Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 22, 2021 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- A bill that would allow taxpayer-funded abortion passed the Virginia state senate on Friday, Jan. 22.
The bill, SB 1276, would permit abortion coverage for any reason in health insurance plans on Virginia’s taxpayer-funded health exchange. The bill was introduced on Jan. 12 and cleared a senate committee on Mon., January 18.
On Friday afternoon–the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide–the state senate approved the bill by a 20-17 vote along party lines.
The state’s bishops have been outspoken against the bill. “Virginia should not subsidize abortion on demand with taxpayer funds,” Jeff Caruso, director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, told CNA on Friday prior to the vote.
“The exchange is taxpayer-funded. Taxes pay for managing the exchange, and for subsidizing health plans in many cases,” he said, explaining how the bill would subsidize abortion coverage.
Caruso said that the conference has “been urging and continue to urge” the members of the Virginia Senate to “reject this dangerous bill that would tragically result in more abortions.”
SB 1276 struck a phrase clarifying that health plans offered on the exchange would not cover abortions except in cases of rape or incest, or when the physical health of the mother is at risk due to the pregnancy.
Virginia’s state legislature passed an abortion bill in 2020 that allowed physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to perform abortions; it also struck down existing requirements that women be informed about the abortion procedure and receive ultrasounds before having an abortion, and deregulated safety standards at abortion clinics.
Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill into law on April 11, Good Friday–an act which the state’s bishops called “a particular affront to all who profess the Gospel of life.”
A companion bill to SB 1276 is also being considered in the state house of delegates.
The state’s consideration of taxpayer-funded abortion is taking place as the federal government is also considering repeals of pro-life protections against public funding of abortion.
The Biden administration is reportedly set to reverse the Mexico City Policy, which bars federal funding of foreign NGOs that perform or promote abortions.
House and Senate Democrats have also signaled a desire to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of abortions in spending bills. House Democrats passed a COVID relief bill last year without protections against taxpayer funding of abortions included, but the measure did not pass the Senate.
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