Washington Bill Forcing Abortion Insurance Coverage Defeated

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 7, 2012   |   12:50PM   |   Olympia, WA

Pro-life advocates in Washington state are celebrating the 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 on Friday. With Friday the cutoff for bills to receive approval, that means the pro-abortion measure is dead for the legislative session and abortion backers will have to try again next time.

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.”

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.”

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).”

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.