A group of Democratic state senators urged their fellow lawmakers to reconsider an abortion insurance bill during a one-sided “briefing” Monday.
The bill passed in the House last year, but stalled in the Senate. History repeated itself this session. The bill, which supporters call the Reproductive Parity Act, would require health insurers to cover abortions if they also pay for maternity care.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, legislators and advocates testified at Monday’s hour-long briefing about the importance of expanding abortion coverage, particularly for low-income women.
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, is the sponsor of the stalled Senate bill. He said that he is concerned that the state’s new health insurance exchange will deny certain women the procedure and many will not be able to afford additional coverage.
“Women will have fewer choices in the end,” said Hobbs.
Elaine Rose with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest said, “People’s health care decisions are determined by how much money the have.”
An abortion costs about $600 in the first trimester and typically gets more expensive the longer a woman waits, according to Tiffany Hankins with the Community Abortion Information and Resource Project. Hankins added that abortion is a “ticking clock” because the procedure gets more expensive the longer you wait.
Bill supporter Christine Kocsis called herself “living proof” that abortion is often about money. Seven years ago, Kocsis got pregnant by an abusive partner and wanted an abortion, but delayed her procedure because she couldn’t afford it.
Although she was uninsured at the time, she said she “cannot imagine” if she had been paying for insurance and found it would only cover her if she carried the pregnancy to term. That’s the scenario advocates are trying to prevent.
Opponents said the bill discriminates against those who don’t believe in abortions. During a previous House Health Care and Wellness Committee hearing, bill critic, Angela Connely, said the act would bully people into covering the procedure.
On Monday, Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, the chair of the Senate Health Care Committee, called the bill “the abortion insurance mandate bill.” She said abortion coverage is readily available and if it becomes a problem then the issue can be readdressed.
Becker said, “What really worries me is if every carrier is forced to cover abortions what choice is left for folks who don’t want to? We have to respect those people.”