Virginia delegates are evaluating a potential bill for the 2021 regular session that would increase funding for abortions under Medicaid and require individual businesses to include abortions in their insurance plans. A House subcommittee met on Tuesday to discuss House Bill (HB) 1445 and hear public comment on the bill. Planned Parenthood and NARAL representatives offered comment, as well as the Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL) President Olivia Turner.
“So at the hearing yesterday, the only portion of the bill that was discussed was the portion regarding expansion of Medicaid funding to include abortions, and there were numerous individuals who spoke in favor of doing so, and there were four speakers who spoke against that, ” Turner told The Virginia Star. “The primary groups that spoke in favor of expanding it were groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, and other reproductive health groups which actually all stand to financially benefit because they would be receiving the money.”
In an email Wednesday, the VSHL said, “Currently, the only abortions that can be paid for with Virginia taxpayers’ funds are those allowed by the Federal Hyde Amendment, life of the mother and rape and incest. Virginia also allows abortions under Medicaid when the baby may be born with a serious disability.”
HB1445 was sponsored in January, but was continued to the 2021 session by a voice vote, a move that Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) told The Star expresses concerns about the bill.
“Generally if a bill is carried over that’s sort of a nice way of killing the bill,” Cox said.
Turner said the bill was continued in January immediately after California was fined for violating the Weldon Amendment, which prevents state governments from requiring private insurers to cover abortions. One section of HB 1445 might have made Virginia liable to similar fines.
“The day before the hearing in Virginia, everyone in the General Assembly would have heard the news because it was on the news, it was a big story actually,” Turner said.
“It remains to be seen in the next session. They clearly intend to introduce it,” Turner said. “It appears that [sponsor Delegate Marcia Price (D-Newport News)] fully intends to reintroduce this bill.”
Turner said that if the bill is re-introduced in 2021, sponsors might remove provisions requiring private insurers to cover abortions. However, the federal protections could be removed by the president. Turner said Virginia delegates may be waiting to see who wins the presidential election to decide how much of the bill to retain.
Democrats may also introduce other pro-abortion bills or an abortion rights amendment, according to Turner. “On paper, they can’t be stopped,” she said.
“They’ve got a pro-abortion governor sitting in his office at the governor’s mansion with a pen in hand waiting to sign anything they pass and they’ve got the votes to do it,” Turner said. “The only thing that will stop some of this is if the people of Virginia recognize how far they’re willing to go.”
– – –