Pa. Senate approves bill opting out of abortion coverage

Posted: June 06, 2013

HARRISBURG - The state Senate sent legislation Wednesday to Gov. Corbett that would prohibit all coverage of abortions under the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchange.

By a 31-19 vote, the Senate approved a bill that would deny women the ability to purchase abortion coverage through the new privately-run insurance exchanges aimed at low-income individuals and families.

Corbett's spokeswoman, Kirsten Page, said the governor was "inclined" to sign the bill, which would make Pennsylvania the 21st state to opt out of exchange-based abortion coverage.

Sen. Don White (R., Armstrong) said the Affordable Care Act gives states the option to decide whether abortion is covered in a health care exchange. He said the bill would ensure that current laws are applied consistently.

Opponents said the measure goes beyond the state's Abortion Control Act by preventing women from purchasing abortion coverage under private health insurance.

Without access to such coverage, women enrolled in the exchange would have to pay the full price for an abortion, which could run cost $450 or reach into the thousands of dollars if there are complications, according to Planned Parenthood.

Sen. Lisa Boscola (D., Lehigh) said the bill represents a continuation of the legislature's "attack on women's health."

Boscola - one of eight women in the 50-member Senate - blamed the bill's passage on the dearth of women in the legislature and urged any women interested in running for office to call her.

Two female GOP senators - Pat Vance of Cumberland County and Lisa Baker of Lehigh County - joined Democrats in voting against the bill.

Philadelphia Democrat Michael Stack called it unnecessary, redundant, and "a mistake."

The Senate rejected two amendments that would have made the bill more palatable to abortion-rights supporters, including one that would have allowed an exception for coverage when an abortion was necessary to avert a medical emergency.

The bill contains only narrow exceptions for rape, incest, and imminent death of the woman.

Contact Amy Worden at 717-783-2584 or, or follow on Twitter @inkyamy.

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