Washington State Senate Passes Reproductive Parity Act Following Six Years of Debate
Contact: Katie Rogers, Communications Manager, 206-328-7705
For Immediate Release: Jan. 31, 2018 (Updated: Jan. 31, 2018, 11:10 p.m.)
Support Grows for the Reproductive Health Access For All Act, a Critical Piece of Legislation Ensuring Care for Millions of Washingtonians
Olympia, WA — Today, the Washington State Senate passed the Reproductive Parity Act (SB 6219) following more than six years of consideration. The Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) passed by a vote of 26-22, would require all insurance plans in Washington state that cover maternity care to also cover abortions, ensuring that women are able to make the decisions that are best for themselves and their families. The State House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill next month. A complementary bill, the Reproductive Health Access for All Act (SB 6105) is in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee and is at supreme risk if the Senate Health Care committee fails to act by tomorrow.
“The Reproductive Parity Act is a big step for Washington state, and one we are pleased to see move forward after so many years. Senators stood strong and fought back against harmful amendments to ensure that no woman's pregnancy decision is affected by an inability to pay for care. That said, we will continue to push for more comprehensive coverage, which can be found in the Reproductive Health Access for All Act (RHAA),” said Courtney Normand, Washington public affairs manager. “The fate of the RHAA is uncertain, even after hundreds of constituents advocated in strong support of the bill. Until all Washingtonians have access to affordable, high-quality reproductive health care, we must not rest."
"The Reproductive Parity Act is a critical step toward access to reproductive health care for Washington state residents and we continue to have much work to do,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Washington political director, Elissa Goss. “Being pro-choice is about being bold and pro-active in the face of attacks, including the ongoing assault on reproductive freedom at the federal level. We will work to have decisive action to ensure that all Washingtonians have access to reproductive health care regardless of gender identity, immigration status, or income."
“The Reproductive Parity Act recognizes that reproductive freedom is integral to gender equality, and expressly rejects the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine that freedom,” said Legal Voice Advocacy Director Sara Ainsworth. “The Senate just took an important first step to ensuring everyone in Washington State has access to the reproductive health care coverage they need to thrive. We look forward to working with legislative champions to ensure that’s exactly what it is: a first step that can be built upon to make access more inclusive and equitable.”
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 1.4 million women in Washington state have gained health insurance coverage. The promise of health care reform was that people would have more access to health care, not less. The RPA builds upon the coverage by ensuring women also have access to abortion care, and coverage for all FDA-approved contraception, including emergency contraception, without cost-sharing.
"While the RPA passage represents significant progress, unfortunately, some of the most impacted communities across the state were cut from the bill," said Gender Justice League Board Chair, Sophia Lee. "We are asking Washington legislators to take this momentum to push forward and pass the more comprehensive RHAA bill that will also protect thousands of transgender people and immigrant communities, who struggle to overcome disparities in health care. Because we cannot have parity unless it is parity for all."
“The ACLU of Washington applauds the passage of SB 6219 to ensure access to reproductive care for low-income individuals, who are more likely to face barriers to reproductive health coverage. We will work to ensure that the right to make one’s own reproductive decisions is protected and meaningful for everyone in our state, especially for our immigrant and transgender families, friends, and neighbors,” said Elisabeth Smith, legislative director at ACLU of Washington.
The RPA is consistent with Washington’s long-standing commitment to reproductive rights, but as more communities face significant barriers to health care and attacks on their reproductive rights, the RHAA provides broader protections and coverage, similar to Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act.
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