GOP Walks Gingerly around Va. Abortion Bills

January 13, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Republican legislative leaders face a tricky balancing act in the 2013 session in dealing with a handful of bills that target a federal mandate for employers to cover contraceptives in their health insurance plans.

The General Assembly's most unyielding abortion foe, Del. Bob Marshall, is offering three bills that would restrict coverage of birth control, including sterilization procedures or "morning-after" drugs. Two allow objecting private employers to opt out, and one would do the same for state government and localities.

Last year, bills to restrict reproductive rights drew Capitol Square protests and made Virginia Republicans punch lines for television comedians. With gubernatorial and House elections this fall, senior Assembly Republicans fear a repeat.

But they also fear alienating the conservative GOP base by burying Marshall's contraception bills.

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