Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington
Women’s Health Advocacy Groups Applaud House Passage of Reproductive Health Act
Proactive and commonsense HB 1647 ensures comprehensive insurance coverage for reproductive health
OLYMPIA, WA — Today the Washington State House of Representatives voted to approve the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), legislation to provide comprehensive insurance coverage for the full range of reproductive health services for both women and men. HB 1647 includes provisions for affordable and equitable access to the full range of birth control options, recommendations to the legislature on reducing health disparities, and a requirement that insurance companies that cover maternity care must also cover abortion care. The House voted 51-46-1 to approve the bill, which now heads to the Senate for consideration.
“We urge the Senate to quickly take up the Reproductive Health Act. Washington women are depending on it. Only the RHA ensures that women have the ability to make the health care decisions that are best for themselves and their families,” said Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. “We applaud the House for passing the RHA and partnering with women to address the real reproductive health issues facing Washington.”
Key provisions of the Reproductive Health Act include access to all FDA-approved birth control methods for people insured through state-regulated plans, and making progress towards reducing disparities in reproductive health care. The legislation also includes a provision requiring insurance companies that cover maternity care to also cover abortion care, an essential protection that will leave a woman’s decision about her pregnancy with her and her family, not her insurance plan.
“Equality for women means guaranteed access to free birth control and access to quality, affordable health care—including maternal and pregnancy care, birth control and abortion,” said Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “The Washington House has shown leadership in passing bills that will help Washington women and their families thrive. Now we look to the Senate to see whether they will stand with us or stand in our way.”
Low-income women disproportionally face barriers in accessing contraception and timely abortion care. Out-of pocket costs create an impossible financial hardship, so women often aren’t able to make the decisions about their reproductive health they feel is best for them.
“As other states across the country add yet more roadblocks to women’s access to reproductive health services and coverage, we applaud Washington legislators for working instead to ensure that all women in this state have meaningful access to contraceptive and pregnancy care, including abortion,” said Janet Chung, Legal & Legislative Counsel at Legal Voice. “Access to reproductive health coverage, without cost-sharing or co-pays, is critical so every woman can determine for herself whether and when to become a parent.”
Despite our state’s strong reputation as a nationwide leader on expanding access to abortion and birth control, for the first time in years the future of health care for women and families in Washington is uncertain. It is clear there is still more work to be done. In October, the Alliance for a Just Society gave Washington a C+ rating on their Women’s Health Report Card. Additionally, just last month the Senate Law & Justice Committee voted to advance a bill that would require parental notification for a minor seeking an abortion, harmful legislation that would put teens at risk.
“Whether a woman is choosing when to grow her family, accessing pregnancy care or having regular check-ups for reproductive health – it is important to have access to healthcare that is high quality, easy to access and affordable,” said Kirsten Harris-Talley, board member of Surge Northwest. “Washington State has long stood with women and their families so they and their communities can thrive – we need to see the Senate take that stand today and vote to pass the Reproductive Health Act.”
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