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State House of Representatives Passes Reproductive Parity Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2014
Megan Burbank, Communications Directior: (206) 227-1825
Olympia, WA – Today, the State House of Representatives passed the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA), which would protect access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare in Washington by requiring that insurance companies that cover maternity care also cover abortion. The legislation passed with a vote of 54-44 and now moves on to the State Senate, where in 2013 the Republican-controlled Majority Coalition Caucus refused to allow a floor vote despite claims of bipartisanship and moderation.
"We’re grateful to our allies in the House for supporting the Reproductive Parity Act,” said Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. "We’ve heard from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner that at least two plans through the state exchange don’t cover elective abortion, and there’s confusion surrounding more. This is what happens without the RPA in place to protect access to care. We appreciate that our representatives in the House stand with women, and we urge the Senate to show that they do too.”
Among the Majority Coalition Caucus are Majority Leader Rodney Tom and Senator Steve Litzow, both of whom have repeatedly blocked the RPA from coming to a vote, despite previous public declarations of support for the bill.
The House passage arrives days after NARAL Pro-Choice Washington hosted their annual Reproductive Health & Rights Lobby Day in Olympia on February 3, in collaboration with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. Almost 300 activists traveled to the State Capitol to meet with their elected representatives and urge them to support the RPA.
The bill was first introduced in 2012, with strong backing from the public and repeated support from the House. But the State Senate has failed to pass the RPA over two legislative sessions. Now, with insurance companies failing to cover abortion in their plans through the new State Health Benefit Exchange, the need to pass the RPA is urgent and clear.
Reproductive privacy and freedom are values that Washington State has affirmed at the legislative level since before Roe v. Wade was decided 41 years ago. Passing commonsense legislation like the RPA is crucial in ensuring that women in Washington State maintain access to the care that they need, and as attacks on women’s health escalate nationwide, Washington must lead with nation with strong legislation that protects women’s health.
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in Washington State. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington works to protect every woman’s right to access the full range of reproductive health options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the state affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America.