OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Pro-choice groups and legislators received a long-awaited win on Wednesday when Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Reproductive Parity Act which requires all health plans that cover maternity care to also cover abortion care. Health plans must also cover birth control.
"A lot of people have been working on this for a long time to make sure women have access to the full spectrum of health care they need without cost barriers or stigma," Inslee said before signing the bill.
"I thank Washington's health and pro-choice groups and dedicated pro-choice legislators for making this landmark legislation possible. Reproductive health care including family planning and abortion care is health care similar to other essential care services or prescriptions."
Senate Bill 6219, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019, will also begin to address reproductive health disparities and cost barriers throughout the state.
"It guarantees access regardless of your ability to pay. For many who need access to abortion care, cost is a significant barrier," Inslee said.
The bill was first introduced by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens in 2012 to ensure women from every income bracket have the same access to contraceptive care through basic reproductive health insurance.
“Washington state has long strived to ensure women control their own reproductive destiny,” Hobbs said. “This bill guarantees that right and also helps provide a little more certainty for women in our state. This is also well-timed because it comes at a moment when the uncertainty coming from the other Washington is at an all-time high.”