A crowd on both sides of the abortion debate packed a hearing this morning on the proposed Reproductive Parity Act, a law that would require health insurance plans providing maternity care also provide abortion services.
Members of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee are considering House Bill 1044, which would maintain insurance coverage for women seeking to terminate pregnancies after the federal Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014.
Currently health insurance policies in the state typically cover abortions, although they are not required by law. The proposal would make Washington the only state in the country to require insurance companies to cover abortion.
Judy Kimelman, a doctor representing the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the committee that women should be able to make their own health choices.
“It would ensure a woman can make health decision that are best for her, rather than based on the insurance coverage she has,” Kimelman said.
Peggy O’Ban, a spokeswoman for Human Life of Washington, told lawmakers the act limits an employer’s freedom of choice.
“To force a human being to take a human life is a violation of our First Amendment right to conscience,” she said. “Washington state would be the only state in the country that would force employers to pay for abortion.”
Gov. Jay Inslee voiced support for the law during his inaugural speech earlier this month.
“Washington women need the freedom and privacy to make the health care decisions that are best for themselves and their families. That’s why I look forward to the Legislature sending the Reproductive Parity Act to my desk, which I will sign,” Inslee said.
On Wednesday, new Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Medina) said the coalition will not let social issues to disrupt the focus on jobs and education.
The committee did not take action on the bill Thursday.