Virginia Senate Passes Legislation to Repeal Ban on Abortion Coverage on Health Exchange

McClellan Bill Would Make Virginia the First State in the South to Remove Health Exchange Prohibition for Abortions 

Today, the Senate of Virginia passed Sen. Jennifer McClellan’s (D-Richmond) SB1276, a bill that removes the ban on abortion coverage for health insurance plans offered in Virginia through the health benefits exchange, making Virginia the first state in the South to end these restrictions on abortion access. The bill passed the Senate by a 20-17 margin.

Currently, abortion is the only legal medical procedure that is prohibited by Virginia law from being offered by private companies that sell plans under the exchange in Virginia. Sen. McClellan’s bill ends that ban. 

“Today, Virginia moved one step closer to ending an unnecessary law that restricts Virginians’ reproductive health care options,” said Sen. McClellan. “Virginians deserve to be able to choose whatever health plan meets their needs, but that option is not available to Virginians covered by the exchange. I’m proud to work with Del. Sally Hudson on this bill to make Virginia the first state in the South to lift the ban on abortion coverage on the health exchange. This is the latest step in our work over the last decade to remove medically unnecessary bans to reproductive health care from the law in Virginia.”

Del. Sally Hudson is carrying companion legislation in the House. She was the chief patron of a similar bill in the House in 2020. 

“Repealing the ban is long overdue, but it’s urgent now with so many workers having lost their jobs and seeking coverage on the state exchange,” Hudson said.

“NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia applauds the state Senate for taking this commonsense step allowing private insurance companies to offer abortion coverage to their customers and giving Virginians the option of buying the insurance they want and need,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “We also congratulate Senator McClellan for patroning this bill for being a champion of reproductive freedom in the Commonwealth. People who get their insurance through the state exchange will no longer have their right to abortion care infringed upon by anti-choice politicians. Today’s vote makes Virginia the first southern state to end this ban and brings us closer to equitable access to abortion care for all.” 

“The current insurance ban is the ultimate government overreach,” said Rae Pickett, Interim-Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. “It allows the government to dictate to the private sector what type of insurance coverage can be offered to private customers. This legislation will allow individuals to choose abortion as a service from the insurance they purchase on the exchange while adhering to existing federal law under the Affordable Care Act. Planned Parenthood supporters, along with the majority of Americans know that people should be able to get the health care coverage they need regardless of how they are insured.”

In 2020, Sen. McClellan led the passage of a new law that created the state-based exchange in Virginia to improve access, lower premiums and improve the efficiency of health care for Virginians.  In the 2020 session, Sen. McClellan’s was also the chief patron of the Reproductive Health Protection Act, a new Virginia law that removed medically unnecessary restrictions for a patient seeking access to safe and legal abortion. These restrictions included mandatory ultrasounds, 24-hour waiting periods, and targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws that require abortion providers to be regulated like hospitals. McClellan was a leading opponent of these restrictions when they passed the House, giving a speech on the House floor using her personal copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”