OLYMPIA — In what can only be seen as a disregard for women’s access to reproductive health care, the Republican-led Senate Health Care Committee today refused to pass the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA), House Bill 1044, out of committee and on to the full Senate for further debate.
Every insurance carrier and nearly every health plan in Washington already covers abortion services. As Washington implements the Affordable Care Act, the RPA anticipates the likelihood of confusion and potential barriers to women's continued access to safe and legal abortion services through their health care insurance plans. The RPA would ensure that women continue to have the freedom and privacy to make health care decisions that are right for themselves and their families.
“Unfortunately this is not an April Fools joke — I wish it was — a woman’s access to reproductive health care is no laughing matter,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, ranking member on the Senate Health Care Committee. “Republicans like to talk about bipartisanship, but when they don’t pass a bill out of committee that has enough support to be voted off the Senate floor, that’s not walking the walk. Sixteen states have already enacted rules that make it harder for individuals to access abortion services. It’s a trend that needs to be stopped here in Washington state.”
The RPA is intended to maintain the status quo and assure that Washington women will continue to have access to services for the voluntary termination of a pregnancy as part of the full range of reproductive health care services.
It requires insurance companies that pay for maternity care to continue to include coverage for abortion unless they object because of conscience or religion. Similarly, individuals and organizations will continue to be able to avoid purchasing health insurance coverage for a service objected to on the basis of conscience or religion.
Washington first voted to ensure women would have access to safe and legal abortion services in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade was decided, by approving Referendum 20 with 56.49 percent of the vote.
In 1991, Washington voters approved Initiative 120, the Reproductive Privacy Act, guaranteeing women in Washington would have the freedom to make their own informed decisions about voluntary termination of pregnancy. I-120 required health insurance programs funded or administered by the state, such as Medicaid, to cover abortion services using state funds.
Find the letter with 25 votes in support of the Reproductive Parity Act, here.
For more information: Alison Dempsey-Hall, 360.786.7887