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Anti-abortion rights group’s model legislation advances in various states

Idaho could soon become the sixth state to opt out of abortion coverage from the year-old Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 56-13 last week to prohibit the use of federal subsidies for abortion coverage in state insurance exchanges set up in federal health care reform, passed in March 2010. The bill awaits the signature of Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, who received the legislation Monday.

The bill, which has no primary sponsor but nine co-sponsors, comes directly from model legislation (PDF) from anti-abortion policy group Americans United for Life.

In a recent newsletter, AUL President Charmaine Yoest said that Christ Troupis, AUL’s state director, “worked closely with the legislators moving the effort forward.” The contact on the bill’s “statement of purpose” is David Ripley, who is the executive director for Idaho Chooses Life.

If signed by the governor, Idaho’s state constitution will be amended to include a new section that will prohibit “qualified health plans that cover abortions from participating in exchanges within this state” and will prohibit funds available to the state’s health and welfare department to go toward paying for abortions unless one physician recommends the abortion is necessary to save the mother’s life or unless the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Not all of AUL’s recommendations made it into Idaho’s bill, such as the stipulation that “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as creating or recognizing a right to abortion.” And AUL’s legislation does not include the exception for rape, incest, or life of the mother.

In Arkansas, two more AUL-derived bills passed the state Senate last week: the Abortion-Inducing Drugs Safety Act (PDF) (AUL’s model), which would require physicians to examine women before they receive abortion-inducing drugs, and the Abortion Patients’ Enhanced Safety Act (PDF), which will force abortion clinics to be subject to the same regulations as ambulatory surgical centers — currently they only have to meet the requirements of clinics that perform minor surgery, such as dental clinics.

Another piece of AUL-supported legislation is likely to change abortion laws in Virginia. Over the weekend, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a bill requiring state abortion clinics that perform five or more first-trimester abortions per month to be regulated like hospitals, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch, noting also that currently, abortion clinics face the same regulations as physician practices similar to plastic surgery clinics. According to the Dispatch, the legislation calls for the regulations to be fast-tracked, and a vote is expected by the State Board of Health in September.

Earlier this month, Americans United for Life released its new compendium of 2011 model legislation.

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