Forty years after Roe v. Wade protected women’s rights to an abortion, state politicians are still wrangling over the particulars. This year in Olympia, state legislators are debating two bills that would either extend or restrict access to abortions.
Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, introduced a bill that would require doctors to notify parents when minors request an abortion. The notification can be appealed to the court, which will determine if the minor understands the consequences of the abortion. The court would have 48 hours to respond to the appeal or the notification will not happen at all.
Similar bills before the House of Representatives and Senate would require insurance companies to cover abortions if they also cover maternity care. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, sponsored the bill in the House. The Senate version has bipartisan support from Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.
Known as the Reproductive Parity Act, the law is meant to protect insurance coverage for abortions in preparation for health care changes from the federal Affordable Care Act. The bill has a steep hurdle in the Senate. It was voted down in the previous legislative session, and now faces an empowered Republican party through the Majority Coalition Caucus, a slim majority of Republicans and two conservative Democrats.
The bills must pass through the Senate’s Committee on Law and Justice, which is chaired by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, who has historically opposed abortion rights.