February 26, 2014
Vol: 51 No: 9

Community & Editorial

For women to control their health care, the legislature needs to pass the Reproductive Parity Act

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On Feb. 3, hundreds of Washingtonians from across the state traveled to Olympia for an amazing day of advocacy: the annual Reproductive Health and Rights Lobby Day.

Activists from 44 out of 49 legislative districts came to the state Capitol because of their passion for women’s health. Throughout the day they rallied in the Capitol rotunda and held several meetings with their elected officials.

Two days later, the State House of Representatives passed the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) for the third year in a row. The RPA would make Washington the first state in the country to require insurance plans that cover maternity care to also cover abortion. Only then can women, rather than insurance companies, make the health care decisions that are best for themselves and their families.

When it comes to the new state health care exchange established under the Affordable Care Act, it’s nearly impossible to find out which insurance plans cover abortion. It took the staff of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest more than a week to figure it out, and we’re still not even completely sure which plans do what.

If it’s this hard for insurance carriers and Planned Parenthood to figure out which plans cover abortion, then imagine how hard it is for the average consumer.

The truth is that there’s only one way to end the confusion and achieve equal justice under the law: pass RPA.

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest is working closely with NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Legal Voice and the ACLU of Washington to pressure the State Senate’s Republican Majority Caucus into holding a hearing and a vote.

Sen. Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D — Bellevue, has stated many times that he supports RPA, but despite this he continually refuses to move the legislation forward. As the leader of a highly fractious, conservative, and mostly Republican caucus, Tom has stated that the RPA isn’t worth the “political capital.”

We respectfully disagree with this analysis. The truth is that women’s health is always worth the political capital. While Rodney Tom is playing games in Olympia, thousands of women in Washington are being left behind when it comes to fair and equitable insurance coverage.

That’s why we stand with our partner organizations, our allies in the legislature, Gov. Jay Inslee and countless grassroots activists in saying that it’s past time for RPA to be signed into law. Rodney Tom and his friends have run out of excuses: It’s time to do the right thing for Washington women.

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