In Washington state, pro-life groups are finally able to celebrate the full and final defeat of legislation that would have required that any insurance policy sold to state residents for maternity coverage also require policyholders to pay for coverage of abortions.
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 wind up on the state Senate floor. The bill eventually found itself caught up in a debate over the state budget and Republicans in the Washington Senate were able to peel three Democratic votes away from the caucus and two votes to try to bring up the measure failed.
The bill eventually hit a legislative deadline but was brought up again during a special legislative session, which has also now ended.
“Yesterday the Washington State legislature ended one special session, began a new one, then finally adjourned after working all night to reach a budget agreement. Technically, this budget required three special sessions and a regular session to complete,” explains Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute of Washington.
“One significant, but quiet success that occurred with the adjournment of the session was the death of ESHB 2330, which would have mandated that all insurance policies that cover maternity to also cover abortions. It would have denied both companies and individuals the right to sell or purchase products without abortion coverage. The bill served as further evidence that the abortion industry is far more pro-abortion than pro-choice,” he said.
“The bill, which was the top priority for Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) did pass the Washington State House of Representatives but was narrowly defeated in the Senate,” Backholm added.
He said grassroots communication to legislators made the difference in preventing the measure from emerging from the legislature.
“The defeat of this bill represents the third year in a row that the abortion industries top priority bill was defeated. During the last two years, their top priority was legislating attempting to shut down pro-life pregnancy resource centers, Backholm said. “It is not only important that you contacted your legislators during the session, it is even more important that you remember how your elected officials behaved when you cast your ballot this fall.”
Before the vote, John Geis of the Family Policy Institute of Washington said, “This is clearly an attempt to impose a state abortion mandate at the hands and under the direct bidding of Planned Parenthood and NARAL.”
Geis says the bills 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.”
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.”
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.
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“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).”
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.”