Washington State, which already boasts widespread access to abortion, recently proposed legislation to ensure that this access is not mitigated when federal insurance changes take place next year. The bill, EHB1044, the “Reproductive Parity Act,” would amend existing legislation to ensure that insurance carriers do not limit or remove abortion coverage in the face of possible hurdles accompanying new federal legislation that takes effect in 2014.
The bill even received criticism from pro-abortion legislators who believed that it may be counter-productive to protecting abortion laws since it could jeopardize the implementation of federal laws. However, the measure contains language that would salvage the bill in the face of federal challenges. Although some legislators believe that the bill is superfluous to already broad abortion laws, many backed the push to ensure the protection of abortion and contraception in Washington.
According to an Associated Press article carried by KATU.com, chairwoman of the Health Care Committee and Republican senator Randi Becker “is skeptical of the measure’s utility[.] … She declined to speculate on its prospects of clearing her committee, which is made up mostly of Republicans.”
The bill has since passed in the House and is awaiting a Senate hearing, which is scheduled for April 1. Pro-lifers in the state hold that the legislation is incongruous with conscience protection, which is essentially nonexistent in the bill. Dan Kennedy, CEO of Washington State’s Right to Life affiliate, Human Life of Washington, says that even the name of the bill, the “Reproductive Parity Act,” is an “Orwellian obfuscation at its worst.” Before the bill came up for a vote, Kennedy outlined exactly why EHB1044 would be so problematic, saying: “Americans will be forced by their government to pay for the taking of human life in violation of conscience for the first time in the history of our nation.”
In fact, the legislation requires complete removal of maternity care as the only method of removing abortion coverage, and complete removal of prescription coverage in order to avoid covering birth control. Kennedy argues that requiring the removal of maternal and prescription coverage is not the answer to sidestepping the coverage of abortion and birth control and says that the legislation “[forces] employers to pay for abortions through the insurance plans they purchase for their employees if maternity care is included.” “Parity,” he says, “implies that healthy moms with healthy babies delivered into the world are the same as aborted unborn children.”
If you live in Washington, you can help to prevent forced abortion and hormonal birth control coverage by supporting your local Right to Life affiliate through Human Life of Washington, and calling on your senators to vote for conscience protections before the measure comes up for a senate vote on April 1.