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State senator: Abortion coverage bill ‘will not move forward … this year’

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OLYMPIA — State Senate committee members on Monday considered a bill that would require insurance companies in Washington to cover abortion. The measure brought out everyone from Planned Parenthood to the Roman Catholic Church.

Right now, virtually all insurance plans in Washington state cover abortion. However, with the full implementation next year of the federal health insurance law, sometimes called “Obamacare,” some are worried that the new insurance plans that will be coming on line won’t offer than benefit.

“I don’t know every other woman’s story, but I know my story,” Lonnie Johns Brown, who years ago had an abortion, said during a hearing of the state Senate Health Care Committee. “I was 26. Failed marriage.  Minimum wage job. I was fortunate; my employer had abortion coverage.”


State Senate Health Care Committee Chairwoman Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, says the abortion insurance coverage bill will not get out of her committee this year.

Brown supports the bill’s mandate that any insurance company that offers maternity care also offer abortion services as well.

“I only ask that we continue the practice in our state of making sure that woman have the access to the health care services that they need,” Brown told committee members.

But others told lawmakers that mandating abortion coverage would be unfair to those who oppose the procedure.

Colleen Walker testified that the measure “will force those who want to pay for maternity coverage and bring life into the world to also pay coverage for a procedure that brings death to a child.”

Some business owners told lawmakers that they want insurance options that don’t require them to violate their personal morality.

“Why would some members of this committee want to take away my rights as a business owner to run my company according to my conscience?” asked Jim Mischel, who own Electric Mirror in Everett.

Supporters of the the bill, titled the Reproductive Parity Act, want to protect the coverage that is being eliminated in some other states.

“There are dozens of states that are moving to restrict insurance coverage and to restrict rights to reproductive health care services,” said state Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent. “This simply enshrines the status quo so that women are not having to jump through hoops. It’s common sense.”

The bill would provide an exemption for churches and faith-based nonprofits that want to offer insurance plans that don’t provide abortion services.

A letter was circulated with the signatures of 25 state senators – a majority – who support the bill and say they would vote for it if it came to the Senate floor. That appears unlikely to happen, however.

Senate Health Care Committee Chairwoman Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, adjourned Monday’s hearing without taking a vote, which means the legislation won’t advance by Wednesday’s legislative cutoff date.

“The bill will not move forward from here this year,” Becker said.

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    • Teri

      A business owner's conscience doesn't have any factor in the medical procedures of their employees BUT the state mandating that they HAVE to provide medical insurance that includes a "medical procedure" that goes against their moral beliefs is wrong. If a business owner really does believe that abortion is murder, then in essence, the law is mandating that employer to go against their moral beliefs and provide insurance for murder. The employee can still get an abortion, but it just won't be covered, and there are several low or no-cost clinics that would be an option.

  • Silent_cries

    Abortion is nothing less than sanctioned murder. There are other options. Try not having unprotected – premarital sex. If you absolutely have to ignore common sense and need to risk STDs, try contraception. You can give the child up for adoption. They didn't do anything to warrant being killed for. Let them have a chance at life.

    • Smiles

      Firstly, what does premarital sex have to do with anything? Being married (or not) is in no way a requirement for abortion. Also, what leads you to believe that DSHS, CPS, foster homes, and orphanages are doing so well that they can continue to care for the burden of childcare left by others? From what I have seen, they are suffering tremendously! So much so, that we are regularly served up a story about abuse in a home that CPS is already supposed to be watching.

      Yes, a chance at a really lonely, sad life…that may well end in pain…all while developed enough to fully appreciate the hell that is their life.

  • Been there

    That child is a life – it does not need to be removed as if it were a parasite. Please if you don't want to get pregnant use contraceptives or ABSTAIN!! Condoms are CHEAP – there is no excuse for an unwanted pregnancy in this day and age.

  • Lovemybabies

    Abortion is murder protected by law. Murder of the most innocent of humans, whose only crime is being alive. Abortion is the antithesis of medical care and is completely anti-woman. The only ones it saves are the men who put these women in this situation in the first place.

    And isn’t it rather condescending to say that the lives of those given up for adoption are terrible? Who are you to judge? I know many people who were adopted and I know they are grateful of the life their birth mothers gave them. I also know foster parents who were not able to have children and the joy they experience at being able to adopt these babies.

    As a state that prides itself for equal rights, we are lacking in equal rights for the most vulnerable humans on the planet. Shame Washington