Will Washington State Have More Luck Passing the Reproductive Parity Act This Year?
The bill is being lauded as a first-in-the-nation attempt to add abortion coverage to all insurance plans. That's exactly why it failed in 2012. Will this year be different?
Washington state is debating a bill that would expand insurance coverage for abortion, a move that would greatly help low-income individuals who may not have the necessary funds to end an unwanted pregnancy. The state’s Reproductive Parity Act would require any insurance plan that covers maternity care to also cover abortion. “This is a core value for Washingtonians,” NARAL Pro-Choice Washington lobbyist Melanie Smith told the Associated Press. “We should protect it while we still have it and not leave access to basic health care up to an insurance company.”
The bill has passed the state house and has headed to the senate, which is where a similar bill stalled in 2012; senate Republicans killed it in committee by attaching it to a budget battle, blocking it before it could get a full vote. If it had made it to the floor, it was expected to have enough votes to pass.
The bill could be just as difficult to pass this year. Despite winning a majority in the state senate, two Democrats defected and joined Republicans to create a new majority, with membership on committees evenly split between the parties. Although one senator’s illness is leaving the body in flux and the conservative majority unstable, it is unclear if that change will help or hinder the passage of the bill.