The measure is now on its way to the state House, in which previous years have passed it.
The Washington Senate recently passed an abortion insurance bill, sending it forward to the House. Should the measure become law, it would mean that insurance companies in the state that offer maternity care would also be required to provide coverage for contraception and elective abortions.
Senate Bill 6219 passed the Senate with a vote of 26-22, including the vote of one Republican.
In this vote, Senator Joe Fain (R) voted along with the majority Democrats. This sent the maternity care, contraception and abortion insurance bill forward to the House. There, it has passed in previous years only to grind to a halt in the Senate which had been Republican led.
Beyond linking abortion insurance coverage with maternity care and contraception, this state bill would also make changes to all health plans issued or renewed on or following January 1, 2019. All health plans issued after that date must provide deductible-free and co-payment-free coverage for all contraceptive devices and drugs. It must also provide voluntary sterilization coverage without deductibles or co-payments and that coverage must extend to any consultations and other needed procedures linked with those contraceptive devices, drugs and procedures.
Democratic Senator Steve Hobbs sponsored the maternity, contraception and abortion insurance bill.
The various components of the measure “should be part of basic women’s primary health,” said Senator Hobbs. “No woman should have to seek or pay for an additional rider or copay or have any other means of delay or financial burden for this coverage,” he explained.
The Washington Senate has previously rejected a number of Republican amendments to the bill, including one that would have made it possible for employers to be exempt from the requirement if they are opposed to abortion.
That said, the most recent version of the women’s maternity and contraception insurance bill was able to pass the Democrat controlled Senate without the employer exemption amendment.
“The underlying bill forces those of us who believe abortion takes a life to pay for people making that decision, and that is very troubling,” said Senator Michael Baumgartner (R). Currently, there is an exception in place for abortion insurance called the Hyde amendment. It prohibits federal money from being used to pay for money except in situations of incest, rape or when the mother’s life is threatened by the pregnancy.