The Louisiana House just passed a bill that will ban all insurance coverage of abortions. The Republican lawmakers didn’t even want to include exemptions for abortions performed for rape, incest or in cases where the pregnancy is doomed and baby would not survive. To their thinking allowing any exemptions will give the pro-choice forces the ability to kill the whole point of banning insurance coverage of abortion. The Advocate reports:
State Rep. Juan LaFonta, D-New Orleans, tried to amend the bill to allow coverage to abort nonviable fetuses.
He said a mother should not have to carry a baby who is unlikely to ever take his first step because of health challenges.
State Rep. Reed Henderson, D-Violet, questioned what LaFonta meant by viability. He wanted to know if that would include quality of life issues.
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LaFonta said he was targeting fetuses that cannot live outside the womb.
[Bill sponsor Rep. Frank Hoffmann] said LaFonta’s amendment would gut his bill.
He said insurance companies still would be allowed to cover procedures dealing with fetuses who die in the womb.
The House overwhelmingly voted to reject LaFonta’s amendment.
What about exemptions for victims of rape who wanted to use their own private health insurance to cover the cost of an abortion? The Daily Comet reports Hoffmann pulled out this old trope.
Hoffmann said, “Rape and incest are horrendous crimes. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law … But the baby is not the one who committed the crime.”
The Louisiana bill does allow for abortions to save the life of the mother, but not without some provisions for doctors. The Daily Comet reports:
Hoffmann’s proposal would require any doctor who bills an insurer for an abortion that is necessary to save the mother’s life to certify that in writing and keep it on file for at least seven years. Opponents argued that could scare some doctors from performing abortions, even in life-threatening situations, because of concerns those decisions could be challenged.
Louisiana also wants to be at-the-ready to ban abortion the moment the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade.
Louisiana has enacted a series of restrictions on abortions over the years, many of which have been overturned in courts. Lawmakers also placed language in the statute that explains the state only allows abortion procedures because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled they are legal. Hoffmann’s bill reinforces that stance.
“If those decisions of the United States Supreme Court are ever reversed or modified or the United States Constitution is amended to allow protection of the unborn, then the former policy of this state to prohibit abortions shall be enforced,” Hoffmann’s bill says.
In Other News: Virginia just passed a budget amendment proposed by Governor Bob McDonnell that potentially will outlaw abortions being performed in a state-run hospitals and remove insurance coverage of abortion for state workers. The Washington Post reports:
On a 20 to 19 vote, the Democratic-led Senate agreed to an amendment proposed by McDonnell (R) that would limit state funding for abortions to those performed in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. Nothing in state law previously prohibited Medicaid-funded abortions in instances when the health of the mother was in jeopardy.
Three Democratic Senators crossed party lines and voted for McDonnell’s amendment, which he says will merely make state code correspond with the federal Hyde amendment to ban public funds from being used on abortions. There is confusion, however, on what the impact of the bill will be. WTVR reports:
But some lawmakers, including Senator John Edwards, D-21, feel the amended version comes with additional burdens- like preventing elective procedures at any state-run hospital or facility, and making it more difficult for women to obtain abortions for health reasons.
“Given the language of the governor’s amendment, state hospitals would not be available at all,” said Edwards in a phone conversation Thursday. “That’s why it’s so far-reaching- I don’t know of any other state that goes this far; there may be others, but I’m not aware of them.”
Edwards also objected to wording that stripped use of all government funding for abortions, whether the money comes directly from taxes (general fund money), or from other sources like college tuition and hospital fees (non-general fund money).
The Roanoke lawmaker said the end result would be no more abortions at state hospitals and state workers would not receive any insurance coverage for health-related procedures.
April 23, 2010
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