Abortion coverage to be limited in Pa. insurance policies
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania is joining about 20 other states in limiting coverage of abortions under health care insurance policies offered in a federally run marketplace starting next year under a sweeping federal law.
The office of Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican who opposes abortion rights, said he signed the bill on Monday, without offering any comment. In the past, Corbett's office has said that it would not place any greater restrictions on access to abortion than already exist.
Andrew Hoover, the legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union chapter in Pennsylvania, said he is unaware of any potential legal challenges to the law. But he said the law is insensitive to women's health care needs because it would bar many policies from covering an abortion for a woman whose pregnancy could inflict long-term damage on her health.
He also said it marks the first time that the Pennsylvania government has prohibited a private insurance company from covering an abortion for a private customer who is using private money to buy the insurance.
“That's new territory for state law in Pennsylvania,” Hoover said.
Critics of the bill, primarily Democrats, say it expands restrictions on abortion rights and discriminates against poor women. Support in the Republican-controlled Legislature was bipartisan, and sponsors said it is consistent with Pennsylvania's long-standing ban on prohibiting taxpayer support for elective abortions because the insurance marketplace will be run with taxpayer money, even if some policies sold in it are purchased with private money.
They also point out that the 2010 federal health care law that created the insurance marketplaces allows the prohibition on abortion coverage in health insurance policies offered through them.
It would still allow policies sold through the federally run marketplace to cover abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. But anyone wanting coverage for most abortions would need to purchase that coverage separately outside of the marketplace.
Currently, most privately sold health insurance policies cover abortions.
A number of other states, including Florida and Ohio, restrict abortion coverage in insurance plans that will be offered through the marketplaces, according to the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, which tracks restrictions on abortion rights.
The new insurance marketplaces will allow households and small businesses to buy a private health plan, and many will get help from the government to pay their premiums. Under the law, states that can't or won't set up marketplaces — including Pennsylvania — will have theirs run by Washington.
Abortion-rights proponents in the Legislature had tried, without success, to expand the bill's exceptions to include instances when the health of the mother is at risk and to allow policies in the marketplace to include abortion coverage as long as a person used their own money to buy them.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New trial sought in 1977 murder case
- Jailed Philadelphia priest could get papal visit
- State cites Greene County mine after fatality, checking ventilation doors
- Donora-Webster bridge plunges into Mon River after 107 years
- Pa. spared earthquakes from deep-shale drilling
- High Court’s ruling makes Pa.’s health care contingency plan unnecessary
- Lehigh Valley woman pleads guilty in knife-throwing death
- 3 aboard die when plane crashes into Massachusetts home
- 2 from Western Pennsylvania charged with insurance fraud
- Presque Isle Downs cancels thoroughbred races because of running deer
- ‘We are’ chant now a permanent fixture on Penn State campus