In Washington, a Proposed Abortion Bill That Doesn’t Suck

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Photo: Robert Campbell/Corbis

While lawmakers in North Dakota and Arkansas legislate abortion providers within an inch of their existence, Washington is considering a law to require health insurers to cover elective abortions — something the Affordable Care Act will allow them to opt out of starting in January. The bill, known has the Reproductive Parity Act, has a nice logic to it: Any insurer that covers maternity care must also pay for abortions, i.e. anti-maternity care. The bill's opponents echo companies challenging the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that insurers cover birth control, on the grounds that such laws put a “substantial burden” on religious employers to do business with companies that provide a service their God frowns upon. But according to Planned Parenthood, the federal health care law threatens the abortion access Washington residents have come to expect since the liberal safe haven legalized abortion by popular vote in 1970, two years before Roe v. Wade. The Reproductive Parity Act has passed in the state House and, although a majority of state senators have signed a letter pledging their support, is currently stalled in the Senate's Republican-chaired health care committee.