The Pennsylvania Senate will soon consider a bill that would allow the state to opt out of coverage for abortions under the federal health care reform law.

The House of Representatives passed its opt-out bill April 23.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows abortion coverage in private insurance plans participating in the federal or state health insurance exchanges.

Gov. Tom Corbett has indicated Pennsylvania will not set up its own exchange, therefore accepting the provisions of the federal exchange.

The federal health reform law allows individual states to prohibit including abortions under state law, which is the goal of the new bills in the state’s General Assembly.

The Senate is expected to vote on the House bill in coming days.

Abortion coverage is prohibited in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program except in cases of rape, incest or to prevent the death of the mother. No state funds are used for elective abortions in Pennsylvania, which is a provision of the state’s Abortion Control Act.

House Bill 818 would guarantee that the taxpayer-supported plans in the federal exchange are in line with this long-standing policy. The bill does not prohibit individuals from purchasing private insurance for abortions on their own outside the health insurance exchanges.

The bill passed by a vote of 144 to 53. Of the 64 legislators within the Philadelphia Archdiocese (two did not vote), 26 approved the bill, largely along partisan lines. See a breakdown of voting.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference encouraged Catholics to contact their state senator to urge passage of the bill in the Senate.