By Alena Yarmosky, Advocacy and Communications Manager
This is outrageous.
On Friday morning, the Richmond Times Dispatch published an unbelievable and stunningly inaccurate editorial on Governor McDonnell’s recently introduced abortion ban amendment. The editorial recycled Governor McDonnell’s false claims of “taxpayer funded abortion” and completely misrepresented the truth of the matter, all while ignoring the broad and unprecedented impact this ban will have on the health of thousands of Virginia’s women and families. Because it is obvious that that the RTD has been reading anti-choice talking points (and missing the facts), we’re here to set the record straight.
Their take: “[NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia] says McDonnell’s amendment would block women from purchasing comprehensive health care ‘with their own private dollars. Not so.”
Our take: Um… yes so. If Governor McDonnell’s amendment is enacted, it will prevent thousands of Virginian women from purchasing abortion coverage with their own money. Here’s how it works:
Virginia law and the Affordable Care Act already ban state-funded coverage for abortion, except in rare & life-threatening instances.
- Virginia law already prohibits state- funded health insurance coverage for elective abortions except in cases of rape/incest, fetal abnormality, or when a woman’s life is in jeopardy.
- The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, does not require any state (including Virginia) to change its current bans on abortion coverage for women who participate in the exchange.
- Even if Virginia didn’t already have these bans, the ACA explicitly prohibits any federal funds from being used to pay for abortion coverage in exchanges – with limited exceptions for cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. To recap, that’s two concrete bans on public funding for abortion: one in Virginia law, and one explicitly outlined under the Affordable Care Act. No public money can or will be used to fund abortions within the new exchanges – period.
Government subsidies (which some Virginians will use to pay for health care through the ACA exchange) are already restricted from paying for abortion (except in the above – rare – instances).
- The ACA requires insurers to keep private dollars completely separate form all federal funds, including federal subsidies. So, imagine that a Virginia woman is receiving government subsidies to help pay for healthcare through the Virginia exchange. If she decides to purchase coverage for abortion care (currently offered in the vast majority of plans), insurers are strictly prohibited from using government subsidies to do so.
- What’s more, the private funding used pay for abortion coverage must be kept strictly separate from all government funding. It’s 100% clear: No government money (including government subsidies) can go towards abortion coverage.
Gov. McDonnell’s amendment would ban all insurance companies – even separate policy riders – from providing plans that cover abortion. But we already know that state-funded healthcare cannot cover abortion, and no taxpayer money can go towards abortion coverage within the ACA exchange. What then, does Gov. McDonnell’s amendment actually do? That’s right…block women from purchasing comprehensive health care with private dollars.
It’s obvious, RTD: This amendment is not about taxpayer funding for abortion. Current law is clear, and sadly public funding of abortion care is already forbidden, except in very narrow circumstances. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia believes abortion is basic health care and deserves coverage—both public and private. But let’s be clear, public funding for abortion is not the issue here! Instead, this amendment goes far beyond existing law, and imposes unprecedented limitations on private insurance coverage in our state that will block women in our state from getting care they need.
That’s why we’re fighting back. And with all of the myths and misrepresentations flying around, it’s extra important that your Senator understands exactly what Governor McDonnell’s abortion ban does – and what it means for the women of Virginia. Contact your Senator right now and tell him/her to reject McDonnell’s anti-choice amendment!
Together, we’ll set the record straight.