Olympia, Washington — Lawmakers in Washington State are considering enacting a law that would mandate insurance companies in the state to provide coverage for abortion, making Washington the first-ever in the nation’s history to do so.
At a time when 21 states across the country restrict abortion services from being covered by local insurance providers, Washington is rather seeking to require that the coverage be offered.
“This is a core value for Washingtonians,” Melanie Smith, a lobbyist for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, told The Associated Press. “We should protect it while we still have it and not leave access to basic health care up to an insurance company.”
The bill, known as The Reproductive Parity Act, passed the House earlier this month by a vote of 53 to 43, but its approval is not so certain in the Senate. It mandates that all insurance companies in Washington that provide coverage for maternity care also pay for abortion services.
While not naming any religious insurance companies that exist in the state, supporters of the bill say that the legislation would provide a religious exemption for faith-based insurance providers. They also state that two federally-recognized companies will likewise be exempted from the law.
“It’s not expanding abortion coverage,” claimed Democratic Representative Eileen Cody of West Seattle, who introduced the bill to the legislature. “It’s ensuring the rights of women to get what they’re paying for now and to continue their freedom of choice.”
“I’m down here making sure that my 17-year-old daughter has the kind of protections that we need in Washington state and that all of our kids have those same kinds of protections,” declared Senator Rodney Tom during a recent rally in support of the bill.
“We are going to insist that we are not going to let anybody close the door to democracy in this state,” declared Governor Jay Inslee.
However, pro-life organizations in the state object to the passage of the Act, noting that it would force businesses and residents throughout Washington to pay for the deaths of unborn children against their will.
“Washington state would be the only state in the country that would force employers to pay for abortion,” Peggy O’Ban, spokeswoman for Human Life of Washington, told reporters. “[The bill would become] the first conscience coercion act in American history.”
“To mandate that we violate our conscience is tyranny,” said Dan Kennedy, CEO of Human Life of Washington. “There’s no subtle or soft way to put the truth.”
The bill is set to be discussed again on April 1st in the Senate Health Care Committee.
Among being the first to legalize marijuana use in the country, Washington state is also among the nine states that permit homosexual “marriage.”