States opting out of abortion plans

States increasingly are enacting legislation to opt out of a provision in the new federal health care law that would require coverage for abortion in “insurance exchanges.”

For Planned Parenthood in Michigan, however, the health care law is playing a role in the opening of a Detroit-area clinic where abortions likely will be performed.

Regarding the “insurance exchanges,” the health care reform measure signed into law by President Obama in March requires each state to offer at least one plan that covers abortions and one plan that does not. The law, however, allows states to opt out and bar insurance plans that cover abortions from participating in their exchanges.

Arizona and Tennessee both have enacted laws barring the use of government funds for insurance plans that cover abortions, according to Americans United for Life (AUL). Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law, while Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen permitted the legislation to become law without his signature.

The Florida, Mississippi and Missouri legislatures have approved similar bills. Neither Florida Gov. Charlie Crist nor Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon have announced whether they will sign the measure. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is expected to sign his state’s legislation, AUL reported May 11.

A bill in Louisiana has gained passage in one house of the legislature.

Other state legislatures are pursuing passage of opt-out legislation. AUL reports 29 states “have either introduced an opt-out bill, are planning to introduce a bill shortly, or are laying the groundwork to introduce a bill as soon as their legislative calendars permit.”

“There are those who argue that current law already prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion,” AUL’s Daniel McConchie and Mary Harned wrote April 28. “However, they misunderstand what the federal law actually does. The law directs federal, not state, taxpayer money into subsidies of the insurance plans

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