The state House voted Friday to require all insurance carriers that provide maternal care to also provide coverage for abortions, sending the proposal to the state Senate.
House Bill 1044, also called the Reproductive Parity Act by supporters, passed on a 53-to-43 vote.
The bill is intended to maintain current insurance coverage for women seeking to terminate pregnancies after the federal Affordable Care Act is implemented early next year.
“This bill is about making sure everyone’s conscious is protected,” said Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma), one of the bill’s prime sponsors.
Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Seattle) called the bill a simple fix to maintain the current coverage provided in the state.
“It does not expand coverage of abortion or extend anything that we don’t currently have,” she said.
Republicans who opposed the legislation say it would take away a person’s choice to have an insurance carrier that shares their core values.
“What we have here is a bill that fundamentally alters my choice,” said Rep. Shelley Short (R-Addy). “This bill takes away my choice as a woman to choose not to have that care.”
Many pro-life advocates seated the House gallery and a handful of Republican lawmakers wore white ribbons in a show of opposition to the bill.
Gov. Jay Inslee, a vocal supporter of the legislation, used his inauguration speech as a platform to push lawmakers to pass the legislation. Inslee issued a statement immediately following the vote:
“Today’s vote in the House is a big step forward in guaranteeing women’s access to a full range of reproductive health care services. As I begin signing bills next week, I expect the Senate to follow the House’s lead so the RPA can be among those I have the honor of signing into law. The Senate should not shut the door of democracy when it comes to women’s health care.”
The bill will now move to Senate, where a Republican-led majority coalition holds control. Last week, Senate Democrats expressed frustration that their version of the bill did not receive a committee hearing.
Senate Republicans said it was simply a case of overloaded committee schedules and told the Associated Press there are plans to give the House bill a hearing in committee.