Reproductive Rights Coalition Praises Inslee and Legislative Leaders for Championing Abortion Access in Washington State
Wednesday, reproductive rights organizations celebrated Governor Jay Inslee’s signing of Senate Bill 6219, a forward-looking bill that will expand access to reproductive health care in Washington state. The Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) is now state law following more than six years of consideration. The RPA requires all insurance plans in Washington state that cover maternity care to also cover abortions, ensuring that women are able to make the decisions that are best for themselves and their families. In addition, the RPA covers all FDA-approved contraception, including emergency contraception, without cost-sharing.
State Senator Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) sponsored the bill and continued to champion the legislation after it died in the Republican-controlled state Senate Health Care Committee in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The new progressive majority in the Washington state legislature helped Democratic efforts to advance this bill eventually passing it out of both the House and Senate during the 2018 legislative session.
“After more than six years, we are proud to see the RPA become reality. At a time when politicians nationwide are chipping away at reproductive health care access, Washington state is setting a clear example of what it means to help improve access,” said Treasure Mackley, interim CEO and political and organizing director at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “Our work is far from over as we will continue to push for more comprehensive health care coverage in Washington state that meets the needs of the most vulnerable communities. The Reproductive Health Access for All Act is a step in that direction and we will continue to build off the success of the RPA.”
“NARAL members have worked hard over the last six years to ensure that all Washington State residents have access to the full range of reproductive health care options, including abortion, and we’re thrilled to see this hard work come to fruition with the passage of the Reproductive Parity Act. The urgency is real. Across the country, women seeking abortion services are encountering a barrage of new restrictions, from border patrol agents who appoint themselves arbiters of young, pregnant immigrant women’s health care to the state of Mississippi, which is seeking to test Roe v. Wade itself with an unconstitutional 15-week abortion ban. This legislation guarantees real access to affordable abortion care, regardless of a person’s income or type of insurance coverage,” said Tiffany Hankins, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.
Reproductive health care is basic preventive health care, and barriers to access unfairly discriminate against these common and necessary health services. Further, barriers have a disproportionate impact on communities of color, young women, and low-income communities, leaving them at a greater risk for unintended pregnancy.
“In a stark opposition to federal attacks aimed to undermine reproductive health care access, Washington took a bold stand to cement cost-free birth control coverage and bolster pregnant people’s access to affordable care,” says Priya Walia, Legal Voice Staff Attorney. “The Reproductive Parity Act means real, meaningful reproductive health care access for so many people living in Washington, especially people of color, young people, or people who are low-income, who already face barriers to self-determination in so many contexts. This is the ideal groundwork for expanding access even further to ensure the needs of all of our communities—including immigrants and transgender people—are met.”
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 1.4 million women in Washington state have gained health insurance coverage. The promise of health care reform was that people would have more access to health care, not less.
“Gender Justice League joins our colleagues in celebrating the passage of the RPA as a step in the right direction toward creating fair and equitable access to reproductive health care for all Washingtonians. We look forward to continuing to champion health care access for immigrant and transgender communities in the years to come to ensure that the promise of this bill reaches all those in need,” said Danni Askini, executive director of Gender Justice League.
“Today we celebrate an important victory. By improving access to reproductive care the RPA ensures greater equity in health care coverage and enhances freedom in our state” said Elisabeth Smith, legislative director of the ACLU-WA. “Encouraged by this success, we will continue to work to ensure the ability to make one’s own reproductive choices is protected and meaningful for everyone in Washington, especially for our immigrant and transgender families, friends, and neighbors.”