OLYMPIA — One of the most contentious social issues of the 2013 legislative session won’t get a vote in the state Senate Health Care Committee, the chairwoman announced Monday afternoon.
The so-called Reproductive Parity Act, which narrowly passed the Democrat-controlled state House on a party-line vote in February, would require health-insurance plans to cover abortions.
Supporters released a letter earlier Monday, signed by a majority of the chamber, saying they have the votes to pass the bill in the Republican-run Senate, too — if leadership would bring it up for a vote.
Following a heated two-hour hearing in the Health Care Committee, chairwoman Randi Becker said she won’t.
“The fact is that at this point, House Bill 1044 is a solution in search of a problem,” said Becker, R-Eatonville, in a statement. “Even advocates of the bill admit that there is no need for the bill today as every health insurer in the state of Washington provides for abortion coverage.”
While that’s true now, supporters of the bill note there’s uncertainty about how the federal health-care overhaul, and restrictions on abortion funding, might affect abortion coverage in the future.
In a statement, Democratic state Sen. Karen Keiser said after the bill didn’t get a vote at the hearing that “unfortunately this is not an April Fools joke —- I wish it was —- a woman’s access to reproductive health care is no laughing matter.”