Harrisburg,  June 5, 2013 – Senator Vincent Hughes expressed his disappointment today that the Pennsylvania Senate passed House Bill 818, which would prohibit insurance companies from offering coverage of abortion services in the state health insurance exchange established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill essentially bans the use of private funds for the purchase of insurance coverage for abortions beyond rape, incest, or imminent death.

“I’m disappointed that the majority of the Pennsylvania Senate decided to vote in favor of House Bill 818,” said Sen. Hughes. “We hear a lot of rhetoric in Harrisburg about the need to shrink the size of government. It appears that some lawmakers now want to reduce government to the point where it can fit between a patient and her doctor. This bill is an unacceptable attempt to restrict what should be a personal medical decision.”

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Supporters of HB 818 claim that the legislation is necessary to block public tax dollars from paying for abortion services. However, the federal government is already prohibited from providing funds to cover abortion unless the pregnancy is resulting from rape, incest or poses a danger to the life of the mother. The ACA also includes a “conscience” protection for health care providers who object to performing abortion procedures that conflict with their beliefs. 

“This bill is another attempt to undermine the right to choose that is protected by the United States Constitution,” said Sen. Hughes. “It also creates unnecessary regulations that will do nothing but further restrict access to a legal medical procedure. Simply put, we ought to trust women and their doctors. This bill does the opposite.”

Senator Vincent J. Hughes is a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, representing the 7th District since 1994. He is Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.