Washington Bill Forcing Abortion Coverage Moves Ahead
by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/29/12 7:45 PM
The bill the Washington state House approved that would require that any insurance policy sold to state residents for maternity coverage also require policyholders to pay for coverage of abortions has been approved by a state Senate committee.
The measure forces all individuals to purchase and all businesses sell abortion insurance coverage on a maternity plan. The Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2330 passed from the House floor 52-46 and then passed through several Senate hurdles to end up in the Ways and Means committee.
Monday evening, the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed ESHB 2330 to the Senate Rules Committee “without recommendation.” It passed along party lines with the 13 Democrats supporting it and 8 Republicans voting no.
Officials with the Family Policy Institute of Washington have been closely following the measure, and indicated the “Do pass without recommendation” tag is rare “because it indicates a willingness to allow the bill to more forward but does not indicate the committee is recommending it be passed. Usually a bill moving out of committee has the recommendation “Do pass.” This rarity is an indication that this bill has serious problems that even the proponents recognize. Still, the committee did not consider any amendments.”
“The Washington State Legislature is one step closer to passing a bill that would make it illegal to either sell or purchase an insurance plan that does not provide abortion. This bill would deny every individual and insurance company in Washington State the right to purchase a product that would not require them to subsidize abortions,” the pro-life group says.
According to FPIW, the committee’s own attorney told members, “Fiscal Analyst Tim Yowell of our staff has estimated that our state’s annual federal revenue under the Labor/HHS federal appropriations act is $6 billion annually. This is the amount that would be at risk under the Hyde/Weldon Amendment, if triggered by SB 6185.”
“We have provided the committee two statements from experts on the subject who believe this bill DOES violate that amendment,” FPIW adds.
Now that the been has been voted out of committee, it seems likely the bill will get pulled from Rules to the Senate floor in the next few days.
“If the bill does not have the votes to pass on the floor then the Senate Majority Leader, Lisa Brown from Spokane (Democrat, 3rd Legislative District), will not call it for a vote on the floor for fear of losing,” the group said. “We don’t know how everyone is going to vote, so we still need your support in continuing to call your senators directly, which is best, or through the legislative hotline at (800)562-6000.”
FPIW says the bill is unnecessary as “insurance carriers already provide coverage for abortions on maternity plans,” and “anyone wishing to buy or business wishing to offer this coverage may do so.” he says the legislation violates federal law, specifically the “Hyde/Weldon Amendment”, which prohibits funding abortions as stated in Section 508, (d) (1) and (2).
“Since it violates the Hyde/Weldon Amendment, a Senate Ways and Means committee bipartisan, fiscal staff member has given the estimate that this risks forfeiting 6 billion dollars annually in Labor, Health and Human Services and Education,” Geis explains.
“It violates the U.S. and Washington State constitutional rights of citizens to freely practice their religion and freedom of conscience,” he adds. “Also, because it violates the 1st Amendment, it puts the State in the position of being sued and losing additional millions in legal fees over many years as is the case in the Stormans’ lawsuit, which won due to religious liberties.”
Leading pro-abortion groups praised the vote, with NARAL Pro-Choice Washington’s Interim Executive Director Christi Stapleton said in a statement, according to AP, that the measure “moves our state one step closer to protecting all Washington women’s access to truly comprehensive reproductive health care coverage.”
Senator Mike Padden of Spokane is a pro-life opponent of the abortion mandate who says the state could spend years in court defending the bill. With a twist in state or federal courts, the state could even attack the Hyde amendment itself. It should not be lost on pro-life advocates that Washington State was the first to legalize abortion, even before the Roe v. Wade decision. If such an assault on the Hyde amendment were successful, it could be an additional blight against the state.
Senator Mike Padden said, “We know [the bill] does impact the Hyde Amendment and it violates the Hyde Amendment which says no government may discriminate against insurance because it does not cover abortion, and that is exactly what this is doing.”
David Schmidt of Live Action also looked at the bill and said it is something that should engender strong opposition.
“Planned Parenthood and other abortion industry allies like NARAL are rallying behind a new Washington State bill that would require health insurance coverage for abortion if a health plan covers maternity care,” he says. “This act will force everyone, include those with pro-life values, to purchase an insurance plan that pays for elective abortion if they want an insurance plan that contains maternity coverage. Those interested in an insurance plan without abortion coverage would be banned from having their plan cover maternity care.”
“The bill is called the Reproductive Parity Act or HB 2330 and has passed the House Health Care & Wellness committee and Ways & Means committee on the back of support from Democrats. The companion Senate bill SB 6185 passed the Health & Long-Term Care committee 9 days ago and now heads to the Rules committee. The full state House and Senate have yet to hold a vote,” Schmidt added.
And Sister Sharon Park of Washington State Catholic Conference described the bill simply as “a direct assault on certainly religious liberty but also on the sanctity of human life. It would mandate that abortion be covered in all health plans in the state of Washington.”
Schmidt noted how leading pro-abortion groups are pressing for the legislation.
“Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest which is the political lobbying arm of Planned Parenthood of the Northwest states, “we want to make sure all insurance policies provide abortion coverage,’” he said. “NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is also backing the mandated abortion coverage proposal and says that they have “mobilized its statewide network of members and activists to call and email their legislators in support of the Reproductive Parity Act.’”
On the other side, Dan Kennedy, CEO of Human Life of Washington, told the Seattle Times that “to mandate that we violate our conscience is tyranny.”
State Rep. Eileen Cody and Sen. Steve Hobbs are the prime sponsors of the pro-abortion legislation. Hobbs is running for Congress in the new 2nd Congressional District and FPIW says “this move is seen as an effort to gain favor with Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).”
The legislation is tied to the Obamacare law Congress passed, according to comments Cody made in an interview with the Seattle PI newspaper.
“The federal bill required that no federal money go towards abortion in the exchange: We’re making sure there will be parity between all choices for reproductive rights,” she said. “There will be one plan that will not offer abortions and that will be the federal plan: All plans offered through the state of Washington will offer abortion.”
Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., the Democrats’ candidate for governor, supports the measure to force policyholders to pay premiums for abortions.
“The Reproductive Parity Act will provide a legal guarantee that all women have access to a full range of reproductive health services as the health care exchanges are established,” Inslee said in a statement. “This is a matter of reaffirming our commitment to preserving choice for Washington women and ensuring women are ensured full control of their family planning and health care.”
The bill is not the only pro-abortion attack this legislative session as FPIW tells LifeNews it is concerned about another measure targeting pregnancy centers offering women abortion alternatives.
“For the past two session, Planned Parenthood priority legislation has targeted pro-life pregnancy resource centers with unprecedented legal liabilities associated with handling medical records and administering pregnancy tests that do not apply to abortion providers who provide the same services. This legislation has been defeated two years in a row, but it is expected that another effort will be mounted this year,” the group said.
ACTION: Go to http://www.leg.wa.gov/pages/home.aspx to tell your state legislators to oppose HB 2330. Or call 800-562-6000 and let your legislators know you oppose HB 2330.