House bill allows companies to deny abortion coverage

(Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has passed legislation designed to circumvent a California order that requires health insurance companies to pay for elective abortions.

The legislation passed 245-182 on a mostly party-line vote. Republicans say the California order upheld by the Obama administration last month would discriminate against companies and employees that oppose abortion on ethical and moral grounds.

The bill has little chance of becoming law under President Barack Obama, but is an issue that resonates strongly with the Republican Party's base in an election year.

Democrats strongly opposed the bill, arguing that current law already allows practitioners to refuse to perform abortions because of moral objections.

The administration said in June that California did not violate a religious freedom law when it ordered the health insurance companies to cover abortions.