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Posted at 12:52 PM ET, 04/30/2010

Abortion funding limit could reach further than intended

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

Could Virginia's new ban on state funding for some types of abortions extend further than Gov. Robert F. McDonnell planned?

That's what Democrat Del. Dave Englin (Alexandria) thinks.

Last week, legislators passed the governor's amendment to ban state funds from being used for abortions if the health of the mother is at risk. Now, public money can be used only for abortions in cases of rape, incest, extreme deformity or if the life of the mother is in danger.

It's a bit of good news for Virginia's mounting Medicaid liabilities. The governor's office reports that the ban could save Virginia more than $150,000 a year.

But Del. Englin told me the language of the ban could be interpreted to mean that state money — in any form — can provide abortion coverage only for Medicaid patients. That interpretation could make it illegal for state-sponsored medical centers such as those at the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University to offer abortion services to private-pay patients.

A McDonnell spokesperson said earlier this week that's not the case -- that UVA and VCU can still offer abortions to non-Medicaid recipients.

So the question mark remains.

Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham  | April 30, 2010; 12:52 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia  
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