Wash. House Again Advances Abortion Coverage Bill; Senate Passage Unlikely

March 11, 2015 — The Washington House on Tuesday voted 51-46 to pass a bill (HB 1647) for the fourth-consecutive year that would require most insurers that cover maternity care to also provide abortion coverage, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

In addition, the bill would require insurers to cover contraception without cost-sharing.

Bill's Prospects

The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote, with Democrats supporting the measure. However, it is not expected to pass in the Republican-led state Senate, where a companion measure (SB 5574) has yet to receive a hearing.

Similar legislation has made it through the state House but failed to pass in the state Senate every year for the past three years.

Supporters have said the bill would ensure that insurers continue to offer abortion coverage as new health plans become available through the health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148). Meanwhile, critics have said that abortion coverage is already widely available in Washington and that the bill imposes on the religious freedom of abortion-rights opponents (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4/10).