Washington State Passes Law Requiring Healthcare Plans to Cover Abortion

Pro-choice supporters of Planned Parenthood rally outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. February 11, 2017.
Pro-choice supporters of Planned Parenthood rally outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. February 11, 2017. | (Photo: Reuters/Rebecca Cook)

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee has signed a law mandating that healthcare plans that cover maternity care also must cover abortions.

Known as Senate Bill 6219, among its provisions the new law states that "if a health plan issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2019, provides coverage for maternity care or services, the health plan must also provide a covered person with substantially equivalent coverage to permit the abortion of a pregnancy."

Governor Inslee signed the bill into law on Wednesday, stating that the law makes sure that "women have access to the full spectrum of healthcare they need without cost barriers or stigma."

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"Reproductive healthcare, including family planning and abortion, is healthcare," argued Inslee, according to the Washington Examiner.

Also called the Reproductive Parity Act, the bill passed the state House of Representatives in late February by a vote of 50–48 and the Senate earlier this month in a vote of 27–22.

"Neither a woman's income level nor her type of insurance should prevent her from having access to a full range of reproductive health care, including contraception and abortion services," reads section 1 of SB 6219.

"Restrictions on abortion coverage interfere with a woman's personal, private pregnancy decision making, with his or her health and well-being, and with his or her constitutionally protected right to safe and legal medical abortion care."

Pro-Life groups and some religious organizations opposed the bill. Peter Sartain, archbishop of Seattle and Washington State Catholic Conference, said at a hearing on the legislation that it threatened religious liberty.

"Maintaining the state's commitment to religious freedom is vital," said Sartain, the Peninsula Daily News reports. 

"It would require contraception and abortion coverage while violating the constitutionally-protected conscious rights of individuals, churches, businesses and others."

In January, labeled Washington the "most pro-abortion" state in the nation, with California at No. 49 and Vermont at 48.

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