Washington Senate approves bill requiring insurers to provide contraception and elective abortions
Washington Senate approves bill requiring insurers to provide contraception and elective abortions

The Washington Senate [official website] on Wednesday voted 26-22 [materials] to pass SB 6212 [PDF], which would require insurance providers that cover maternity care to also cover elective abortions and contraception.

The bill, the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA), which was introduced by Democratic Senator Steve Hobbs [official website], will provide coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices as well as voluntary sterilization.

Hobbs, along with Democratic Representative Eileen Cody [official website], introduced the bill for the past five years [Herald report] but, despite support from Republican Senator Joe Fain [official website], it failed to acquire the requisite votes.

Washington state already has several provisions in place protecting women’s access to contraceptive care. In 1991, voters passed a provision [KIRO 7 report] that would keep protections in place should the US Supreme Court [official website] overturn Roe v. Wade [LII materials]. SB 6212 focuses on affordability of coverage. The bill sets up a reimbursement program for women, including non-citizens, who are without insurance or on Medicaid to help alleviate the cost of an abortion. However, the RPA does not provide a provision that ensures accessibility despite proposed rules from the Trump administration that would allow insurers to deny coverage of contraceptives for religious or moral purposes.

Should the bill pass, people could see changes as early as next year as it specifically applies to health plans issued or renewed on January 1, 2019.