Pennsylvania lawmakers keep finding new ways to interfere with a woman's right to choose a safe, legal abortion.
Never mind that the state's abortion control laws already are among the tightest in the country. Legislators have decided that the federal Affordable Care Act gives them one more way to restrict access to abortion.
Last Tuesday, 155 members of the state House voted in favor of a bill that would erect new barriers by prohibiting private health insurers participating in the exchanges being established under Obamacare from covering abortions under their plans. The only exceptions allowed would be in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is endangered.
House Bill 818 and its companion, Senate Bill 3, are not about preventing government dollars from being used to pay for abortions. That's already prohibited. With these measures, lawmakers are trying to prevent patients themselves from paying for an insurance policy that covers abortions. They don't want women to be able to buy it and, by extension, make their own health care decisions.
Proponents of the bills say women still would be able to purchase coverage from providers outside the exchanges, but that assertion is misleading. There is little expectation that insurers will offer such an option.
According to Andy Hoover, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, those types of policies don't exist, and the notion of purchasing such a specialty policy in advance flies in the face of the reality that abortion typically is utilized when a pregnancy is unplanned.
In reality, the effect of the proposed law would be that the cost of a safe, legal abortion has to be fully covered by individuals, and that would be prohibitive for many, especially low- and middle-income women.
It's just one more way for lawmakers to subvert the right that women in this country have to choose abortion.