ATLANTA — A bill approved last week by a Senate committee in Georgia aims to bar state and federal health care plans from offering abortion coverage to residents.
S.B. 98 was introduced by Senator Judson Hill (R-Marietta) and is said to serve as a means of protecting Georgians from funding the termination of innocent life.
“No abortion coverage shall be provided by a qualified health plan offered within the State of Georgia through a state law, a federal law, or regulation or exchange created by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the federal Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, and regulations or guidance issued under those acts, except in the case of medical emergency,” it reads.
While Hill told reporters that the bill doesn’t serve as an abortion regulation per se, the legislation also notes that “[n]othing in this Code section shall be construed as creating or recognizing a right to an abortion.”
Senator Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) said that the measure is another effort to wage war on women.
“We should be focused on the economy, on job creation and preventive health initiatives instead of measures that would eliminate health insurance benefits for women,” she told local radio station WABE.
But Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) asserted that there is no war on women, but rather an attack on people of faith and those who disagree with abortion.
“The idea that in this state we are taking dollars from Georgians and using it for abortion services, that many find morally repugnant and reprehensible is terrible, and it’s something that we should be in a rush, we should be doing everything we can to stop that from happening,” he stated.
Georgia Right to Life has also expressed their support for the legislation, opining that it is a long time coming.
“The Obama health care law requires states to operate and maintain a ‘health insurance exchange’ or the federal government will set one up for them. Georgia has not done so, therefore, the federal government has,” it recently explained on its website. “Unless the state legislature enacts a law to restrict abortion coverage, these exchange-participating plans will offer abortion coverage. Specific language in the Obama health care law authorizes the states to prevent abortion coverage through the exchanges.”
“Georgia is the only state in the Southeast to not opt out of the abortion coverage!” it continued. “There is no excuse for a Republican controlled state legislature to have not passed this restriction. Senator Hill’s bill will take care of this problem.”
The full Senate is expected to vote on the matter this week.
As previously reported, a number of states have passed laws prohibiting taxpayer funds from being used to cover abortion services. Lawmakers in Michigan voted in December to require insurance coverage to be purchased under a separate rider. Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Idaho, among other states, have also passed similar legislation to protect the conscience rights of residents.