Women in Pennsylvania who sign up for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act's new insurance exchange will not be able to purchase abortion coverage - even with private dollars.
Gov. Corbett signed into law a bill today that prohibits abortion coverage in insurance plans offered through the exchanges.
Pennsylvania is now one of about 20 other states limiting coverage under the health care exhanges. set up to provide lower cost health care to independent workers and small businesses that cannot afford insurance for their employees.
Corbett decided not to set up a Pennsylvania-specific exchange, so residents must rely on plans administered by the federal government.
The bill passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support.
House Republican leaders touted the law 's passage as a way to "protect taxpayer dollars" from funding abortion, a contention the ACLU called "ludicrous."
"They're comparing insurance from Blue Cross with Medicare and Medicaid," said Andrew Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, "Under this law a person could buy insurance with the exchange with their own money couldn't get abortion coverage even when their health was threatened."
Hooever noted both the House and Senate had the opportunity to offer an exemption in cases where a woman's health was in danger and voted it down.
"Women who face complications in pregnancy and are better off having an abotrtion will have to pay out of pocket if they buy through the exchange."
The exchanges will still cover abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger..
Hoover said the new law goes beyond provisions of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act's restrictions on public money.
"The state has never banned private insurance companies from covering abortion," he said.
He also said it marks the first time that the Pennsylvania government has prohibited a private insurance company from covering an abortion for a "private customer who is using private money to buy the insurance."
“That’s new territory for state law in Pennsylvania,” Hoover said.
House Majority leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny) said the law protects taxpayers who will be footing the bill for implementing the insurance exchanges and said it is consistent with the state abortion law.
In addition he said the 2010 federal health care law that created the insurance marketplaces allows the states to place restrictions on abortion coverage.