Rapp backs measure to keep abortion out of exchanges

It’s publicly run, but it’s a private purchase.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill to exclude abortion coverage from health insurance exchanges in the state for the second time in two years.

House Bill 818, which will now move to the Pennsylvania Senate for consideration, states, “No qualified plan offered in this commonwealth through the health insurance exchange shall include coverage for the performance of any abortion.”

Health insurance exchanges are insurance marketplaces set to be implemented by 2014 as a part of the Affordable Care Act.

The law goes on to make exceptions for abortions performed due to reasons outlined under existing state law governing publicly run facilities. Those laws allow abortions only in the case of rape, incest or to avert the death of a mother on certification of a physician.

“This legislation is every bit as essential for protecting innocent life as the landmark Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act that was enacted 25 years ago and Act 122 of 2011 that was signed into law to hold abortion clinics to the same high standards as other health care facilities,” State Rep. Kathy Rapp, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a Wednesday press release. “Whether one is adamantly pro-life like me, or pro-choice or indifferent, the vast majority of Pennsylvania taxpayers do not support any of their hard-earned dollars being used to fund the murder of helpless babies.”

Both state and federal law already prohibit using public funds to provide abortion coverage in most cases.

The exchanges would be run by either the state or the federal government, by state decision. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has not yet made a decision on whether the state will run the exchange. Plans in the exchange will be offered by private insurance companies.

The Affordable Care Act does provide subsidies for some low-income individuals and small businesses not eligible for Medicaid to purchase health insurance plans.

Susan Frietsche, senior staff attorney with the Women’s Law Project’s Western Pennsylvania Office sees a broader conflict be-