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Reproductive Parity Act Making Progress in Olympia – Forces Employers to Offer Abortion Insurance

Controversial Reproductive Parity Act passes Washington house
(Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)

Washington businesses and insurance companies are keeping a close eye on Olympia where the controversial Reproductive Parity Act passed the House.

The bill would require employers to offer insurance to pregnant women that covers abortions — regardless of the religious affiliation of the employee or employer. Friday, the bill passed the house by a vote of 55-43.

The bill requires that if an insurance carrier covers maternity care, it then must cover the cost of abortions. Most insurance plans cover the cost anyway, so critics say the bill is not necessary.

Supporters of the bill claim it will not force employers to provide insurance plans that cover abortion. While technically this is true, it is only because Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), reportedly contains two federal plans that employers can choose to offer that will not cover abortion. That is how such groups as Planned Parenthood claim the plan will not force employers into a decision they don’t want — especially for religious reasons.

However, these plans will not be out until next year. In order to opt away from offering insurance that covers abortion, businesses will be forced into taking one of the two federal plans. That is hardly a real choice. There are numerous insurance plans available, but a faith-based business would be coerced into a choice between two plans instead of being allowed to shop the entire insurance market.

Reportedly, there are enough votes in the Senate to pass the measure. However, Republicans say they have potentially enough Democrats on their side they could dig in their heels and stop the bill. Governor Inslee will sign it if it passes the Senate.


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