Several legislators held a press conference today to draw attention to what they say is an attack on women’s healthcare rights in the budget proposed by Senate Republicans and three moderate Democrats.
“This budget moves us backwards,” said Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Seattle. The budget proposal includes a 27 percent cut in family planning grants, which help provide reproductive health education and services. It also reduces funding to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Nelson said.
They called for the revival of a bill requiring insurers to cover abortion services. It passed the House with a 52-46 vote, but when Republicans took control of the Senate floor using a procedural maneuver earlier this month, the bill was essentially killed — along with other non-budget bills that hadn’t yet come up for a vote.
“We must shine the light on this attack on a woman’s right to chose, ” said Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma. Jinkins said she believes there are enough votes for the bill in the Senate, and she wants to see it called to the floor during special session.
The group also celebrated the two-year anniversary of President Obama’s federal healthcare reform, or the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature passed a bill during regular session that helps the state implement the act, which the governor is slated to sign on Friday, said Sen. Karen Keiser.
Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday that budget writers are making significant progress, and she may be open to signing more bills into law. Last week, Gregoire said she wouldn’t sign the vast majority of bills — or veto them altogether — if lawmakers didn’t make progress on budget negotiations. Since then, she’s slowed her bill signing ceremonies down to a trickle.