FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Megan Burbank, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, (206) 227-1825
Erik Houser, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, (425) 308-7700
Janet Chung, Legal Voice, (425) 306-4761
Doug Honig, ACLU of Washington, (206) 624-2184
Passage of the Bill Requiring Insurance Coverage of Comprehensive Reproductive Healthcare Increasingly Urgent in Washington State’s Evolving Healthcare Landscape
WA – Today, Representative Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle) is introducing HB 2148, the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA), for public hearing in the State House Health Care and Wellness Committee in Olympia. First introduced in 2012, the RPA would hold insurance companies accountable to women by requiring that they cover abortion care if they cover maternity care. Despite public support and passing the House twice, the RPA has been blocked twice in the Senate. Now, with some insurance companies failing to cover abortion in their plans through the new State Health Benefit Exchange, the need to pass the RPA is urgent in order to protect women’s privacy and freedom to make the healthcare decisions that are right for them and their families.
“There’s a reason I’ve brought this bill forward three years in a row,” said Rep. Cody, the RPA’s sponsor. “This year some insurance carriers began dropping coverage of abortion services – just as we feared. Today, women are buying plans and are not receiving equal coverage for their pregnancy choices. The Reproductive Parity Act will clear up this confusion, giving Washington women the clarity they need to make the right decisions for their family.”
State Senator Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) also spoke up in support of the RPA, saying, “Women are losing options and passing the RPA is the only way to ensure that access and options are available.”
Women’s and civil liberties groups in Washington State share Sen. Hobbs and Rep. Cody’s concern, emphasizing the real-world consequences that could have been avoided had the RPA become state law.
"We’ve now seen what happens without the RPA in place to hold insurance companies accountable,” said Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “According to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, at least two plans through the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange don’t cover elective abortion, and there’s confusion surrounding others. We know now more than ever that we need to pass the RPA.”
“There’s no excuse for not passing this bill, and quickly. Only the RPA can ensure that women have the ability to make the health care decisions that are best for themselves and their families,” said Jennifer Allen, Director of Public Policy at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. “With plans that have dropped abortion coverage and confusion among consumers, it’s now more critical than ever that we pass this legislation.”
Reproductive privacy and freedom are values that Washington State has affirmed at the legislative level since before Roe v. Wade was decided 41 years ago. Passing commonsense legislation like the RPA is crucial in ensuring that women in Washington State maintain access to the care that they need, and it also provides a critical counterpoint to the attacks on women’s health we’ve seen escalating nationwide over the past three years.
“Washington State has always been a leader in health care reform and implementation,” said Lisa Stone, Executive Director of Legal Voice. “We now know that it wasn’t a case of crying wolf last year – some plans tried to drop abortion coverage, and some actually did. We can’t afford to fall behind the rest of the country.”
“Our state has a strong tradition of providing legal protections for reproductive freedom,” added Shankar Narayan, legislative director for the ACLU of Washington. “With health care reform being implemented, we need the Reproductive Parity Act more than ever to keep reproductive freedom a reality in Washington.”
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in Washington State.NARAL Pro-Choice Washington works to protect every woman’s right to access the full range of reproductive
health options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the state affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating Washingtonians and policy-makers about reproductive health issues. PPVNW lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood's mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.
Legal Voice is a nonprofit women’s rights legal organization that pursues justice for all women and girls in the Northwest through ground-breaking litigation, legislative advocacy, and educational tools to help individuals understand their rights.
The ACLU of Washington is a nonprofit membership organization that works to defend and extend civil libertiesand civil rights for all people in Washington.