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Wash. Abortion Coverage Parity Bill Advances in House

January 28, 2014 — A Washington bill (HB 2148) that would require most health plans in the state to cover abortion services has passed out of a state House committee and could be considered by the full chamber, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reports.

The state House Health Care and Wellness Committee passed the Reproductive Parity Act in a 9-8 partisan vote, with Republicans opposing it.

State Rep. Shelly Short (R) argued that the bill would take "choice" away from people who morally object to abortion and do not want their health plans to cover the procedure.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D) said the decision on whether to have an abortion should be made by a woman and whomever she chooses to consult. "It is not for a business to decide, it is not for an insurance company to decide, it is not for someone else's faith community to decide," she said (Camden, Spokane Spokesman-Review, 1/24).

If passed, the measure would make Washington the first state to require health plans to cover abortion. By contrast, several states have passed laws barring health plans from offering abortion coverage in the health insurance marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148).

The bill could face challenges in the state Senate, where similar legislation stalled last year after passing the House (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/15).