ATLANTA — Legislators in Georgia have passed a bill that bars state and federal health care plans from offering abortion coverage to residents.
As previously reported, 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.”
S.B. 98 was approved by the House earlier this month 105-64, and then cleared the Senate on Wednesday 36-18, mostly along party lines.
As the bill offers no exceptions for rape or incest, some legislators have expressed their opposition to the legislation.
“The truth is that a woman or a child, a girl child, impregnated by rapists for an act of incest would be denied coverage according to the bill as it is currently drawn,” stated Democratic Senator Nan Orrock.
What we’re saying to people working for us in this Capitol is we love you, but you better not get raped,” added House Minority Whip Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus). “Because if you do, you’re going to have to carry that pregnancy to term.”
However, other lawmakers note that the bill is nothing new as Governor Nathan Deal already set the policy in motion through the Department of Community Health last year. The legislation simply codifies Deal’s directives.
“This legislation provides permanency rather than the temporary nature of rules and regs,” Senator Richard Smith (R-Columbus) told the Atlanta Constitution-Journal.
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.”
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.