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Virginia House Passes Bill to End Ban on Abortion Coverage on Health Exchange

"Bill Expands Reproductive Access and Coverage"

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From State Sen. Jennifer McClellan:

Virginia House Passes Bill to End Ban on Abortion Coverage on Health Exchange

Bill Expands Reproductive Access and Coverage

Today, the Virginia House passed Senator Jennifer McClellan’s (D-Richmond) SB1276, a bill that removes the ban on abortion coverage for health insurance plans offered through the health exchange, making Virginia the first state in the South to end these restrictions on abortion access.

The bill passed the House today, 54-45. Del. Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville) has parallel legislation (HB1896) slated for a Senate vote this week. The bills will then head to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk.

Currently, abortion is the only legal medical procedure that is prohibited by Virginia law from being offered by private companies that sell plans under the exchange in Virginia. Sen. McClellan’s bill ends that ban.

“This bill will remove yet another medically unnecessary barrier preventing access to reproductive health care,” said Sen. McClellan. “The current ban was put in place for political reasons. Access to coverage should not depend on the type of insurance you have. Today, the Virginia General Assembly moved one step closer to increasing health care access and protecting reproductive rights for all Virginians.”

“I’m proud that Virginia is making strides to secure comprehensive reproductive care,” said Del. Hudson. “Repealing the ban is long overdue, but it’s urgent now with so many workers having lost their jobs and seeking coverage on the state exchange.

“The current insurance ban is the ultimate government overreach,” said Rae Pickett, Interim-Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. “It allows the government to dictate to the private sector what type of insurance coverage can be offered to private customers. This legislation will allow individuals to choose abortion as a service from the insurance they purchase on the exchange while adhering to existing federal law under the Affordable Care Act. Planned Parenthood supporters, along with the majority of Americans know that people should be able to get the health care coverage they need regardless of how they are insured.”

“We are thrilled with today’s long overdue passage of SB 1276 and so grateful for Sen. McClellan’s leadership,” said Tarina D. Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “Abortion is an essential part of comprehensive, reproductive health care, and one of the most common and safest medical procedures performed in this country.  In fact, one in four women will have an abortion in her lifetime.  That is evidence of how dangerous these bans can be for a person’s health and life if they lack insurance coverage. These bans further widen the gap in the disparity of care for lower-income people and people of color and why today’s vote is so important to help bridge this inequity in care.  No person ever plans on having an abortion, but when an unplanned pregnancy or a tragic turn of events for a wanted pregnancy occurs, they should have access to safe, affordable, and accessible reproductive healthcare.”

In 2020, Sen. McClellan led passage of a new law that created the state-based health care exchange in Virginia to improve access, lower premiums and improve efficiency of health care for Virginians. Sen. McClellan also was the chief patron of the 2020 Reproductive Health Protection Act, which was the first law in the South to proactively protect access to reproductive care by removing medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion. These restrictions included mandatory ultrasounds, 24-hour waiting periods, and targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws that require abortion providers to be regulated like hospitals. As the first member of the House of Delegates to be pregnant while in office, McClellan was a leading opponent of these restrictions when they passed the House, delivering a speech on the House floor using her personal copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”..

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Jennifer McClellan was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 2017 after serving 11 years in the House of Delegates. She has been a leader on fighting climate change, strengthening public education and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, protecting voting rights, enacting criminal justice reform, combating domestic and sexual violence, and fighting discrimination of all kinds.

 Twitter: @JennMcClellanVA ; Facebook: @Senjennifermcclellan; IG: @JennMcClellanVA; Website: Jennifermcclellan.com

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