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Group of Wash. Senators Aims To Protect Contraceptive Coverage Rules

January 6, 2015 — A group of Democratic state senators in Washington is expecting a difficult fight this session over their effort to ensure that women have access to contraceptive coverage, MyNorthwest.com reports.

The group is proposing legislation (S 5026) that aims to protect contraceptive coverage in the state in response to the Supreme Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which allowed some businesses to refuse to include such coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans if the companies' owners have religious objections.

State Sen. Karen Keiser (D) said, "We think [the ruling is] a total overreach and we think that breaks our state laws and our state constitution" (Kerns, MyNorthwest.com, 1/5).

The legislation argues that employers' move limiting access to no-cost contraceptives violates Washington state's anti-discrimination laws and declares that "barrier-free access to birth control remains a fundamental right" (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/6/14).

Although the bill has several Democratic supporters, Keiser said passing the measure in the Republican-led state Senate will be difficult. She noted that conservative lawmakers could prevent the bill from being considered (MyNorthwest.com, 1/5).