Women's Rights
6:10 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Abortion Bill Clears Washington State House

The Washington State House has passed a bill that requires insurance companies that cover maternity services to also include procedures to terminate pregnancies. Women in Washington State already have access to abortion services. The bill attempts to preserve the status quo.

Supporters of the bill say women’s access to abortion services could be undone by the Affordable Care Act. One of the changes coming under the federal health care law is the Health Insurance Exchange. The Exchange is a marketplace for people to buy individual or small group plans. It’s expected to be up and running by 2014.

The federal law allows states to prohibit abortion coverage under the Exchange. It also bars states from using federal funds for abortion procedures. Washington receives federal money to help create its Insurance Exchange.

Christi Stapleton is with NARAL-Pro Choice Washington. She says the bill that passed this week safeguards abortion coverage from federal restrictions.

“There’s a risk that if we do nothing women and girls in this state will actually lose abortion coverage," Stapleton says. "So while it does continue Washington State’s commitment to choice, there’s danger if we don’t get it passed.”

Most health plans now provide abortion coverage. Opponents say the bill implements a policy that goes against their faith.

The bill passed the House by a 52-46 vote. It’s scheduled to go before the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care on Thursday.

Copyright 2012 KUOW.