Concern over federal funding of abortion in the health care reform law has prompted several states to move toward opting out.
Tennessee is the first state to get a bill to its governor. It prohibits taxpayers from funding abortion. Lawmakers in Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia and Louisiana are all considering similar measures.
Mary Harned, staff counsel with Americans United for Life, said AUL has model legislation ready for states to use, and many are taking advantage. “There are currently 15 states that are actively working toward getting this done,” she said, “and at least another 11 that we know of who are planning to do this.
Planned Parenthood has pledged to oppose the “opt out” bills, but many state officials say Congress overstepped its authority by passing the law in the first place. “A lot of states feel that this is one area of abortion policies that has been very much in their control,” said Harned. “Now, they’re having to allow these plans that cover abortions to participate in these new exchanges.”
Notably, the federal government does not provide abortion coverage for its employees.
Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, said individual states must protect themselves and their constituents. “No matter what their views,” she said, “70 percent of Americans are saying they don’t want federal funds; they don’t want taxpayer funds of any sort paying for abortions.”