Georgia Governor Signs Bill Barring Health Plans from Offering Abortion Coverage

Contract pdATLANTA — The governor of Georgia signed a bill into law on Thursday that bars state health plans from offering abortion coverage.

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.” It also provides an exception for the “life of of the mother.”

S.B. 98 was approved by the House last month 105-64, and then cleared the Senate 36-18, mostly along party lines. However, some opposed the legislation, remarking that it 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,” Senator Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) 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.

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“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.

On Thursday, Governor Nathan Deal signed the legislation into law, releasing a brief statement afterward.

“As governor, I will not allow the federal government to force Georgia taxpayers to fund abortions,” he said.

Pro-life groups praised Deal following the signing.

“As a pro-life woman and mother, I am deeply grateful that Governor Deal signed this law,” said Georgia Right to Life Co-Executive Director Genevieve Wilson. “Georgia is solidly pro-life, and bringing a halt to publicly funding this horrific practice is long overdue.”

“Given the fact that the majority of Americans do not want to pay for abortions, it’s vital to restrain the influence of the abortion industry that has been enriched by taxpayer funds,” said Dr. Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life. “Case in point, the billion-dollar budget of Planned Parenthood is supplemented dollar for dollar from tax payer subsidies. Too few people really understand how the abortion industry picks their pocket.”

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.

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