Washington House Passes Bill Requiring Insurers Who Cover Maternity Care to Cover Abortions


For the third year in a row, the Washington House of Representatives has passed the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA), which would require all health insurance plans in the state that cover maternity care to also cover abortion services. If the bill is signed into law, the state would be the first in the nation to mandate that private health insurance plans cover abortion.

Sponsored by Rep. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle), HB 2148 was passed by a 54-44 vote Wednesday, mostly along party lines. Two Democrats voted against and one Republican vote for the legislation. 

Cody told the Associated Press that while the choice to terminate a pregnancy belongs to an individual, “it should not be made by your employer or a health-insurance company.” Meanwhile, opponents argued that mandating covering abortion would infringe on the personal beliefs of business owners who object to the procedure. 

The legislation now moves to the senate, where a Republican opposition prevented passage of a similar bill during the last legislative session. A coalition of 24 Republicans and two Democrats currently controls the senate. Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) introduced the senate version of the bill, SB 6359.

Proponents of the legislation have said that it is needed now more than ever in response to some health insurance companies dropping coverage of abortion due to confusion caused by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement that reproductive health-care decisions can be made even more difficult without insurance coverage of abortion, “especially for those American women who are already struggling to make ends meet.”

Earlier in the week, the Seattle Times reported that more than 250 reproductive rights activists rallied at the capitol calling for passage of the bill. Hobbs, the sponsor of the senate bill, told the crowd, “It’s a choice, not just for the women in Washington state. It’s a choice [for lawmakers] to do the right thing.”

Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, said in a statement, “Simply put, Rodney Tom and the Majority Coalition Caucus have run out of excuses. The RPA must come to the Senate floor for a vote.”

SB 6359, which currently has 21 co-sponsors, has been referred to the Senate Health Care Committee, but is not currently scheduled for a hearing.

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  • David Taylor

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    • HeilMary1

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  • radicalhw

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  • Anon rust

    Finally, a bit of common-sense, good news.

  • Anon rust

    Go, State of Washington!

  • terry513

    Covering birth control would be a lot less expensive than covering abortions but some people have a hard time helping poor women pay for birth control when it cost at least 1/100 of what an abortion cost. When a woman has complete control of her own body and can get the birth control, she will only have the children she wants to raise. BC pills cost about 0-50 a month depending on the insurance plan and it is so much cheaper than abortions. Everyone wins all around. Less on Medicaid, less on welfare, less of food stamps, less taking advantage in programs meant for the poor, less children put up for adoption, less children abused by parents who were forced to bear a child they didn’t want, less of everything, all for just pennies from each person in a .001 raise in sales tax or fed. tax. It’s mind boggling when you read from each person why they would rather see all these things happen rather than help out for just pennies. It’s the mindset or mentality of Scrooge wanting all the pennies for himself/herself. We all benefit if we help but we all suffer if we don’t.

    • Lady Yui

      Birth control also fails. Additionally, an early abortion (6-12 weeks) runs roughly $500. Chances are, if you are using birth control, then it’s because you don’t want to get pregnant, and will be more likely to want an abortion. Compare the cost of 9 months of birth control (~$500) plus the cost of an abortion, to the cost of 7 months of pre-natal care and the resulting childbirth (*minimum* of $10K, and usually closer to $15K+). Covering BOTH birth control and abortions is both necessary (due to birth control not being 100% effective) and practical, since the combination is at least 10 times cheaper than carrying it to term. And that’s 10 times cheaper *without* factoring in any costs incurred *after* the birth.

      Also, just an FYI….but thanks to the ACA, birth control already IS covered.