News Abortion

Washington State GOP Uses Budget Fight To Kill Mandatory Insurance Coverage For Abortions

Robin Marty

The push for insurers in Washington to cover abortion if they offer maternity care ended due to a budget battle.

Washington state was in the process of becoming the first state to require insurers to cover abortion services if they also covered maternity care.  But that bill has died due to Republican maneuvering in the Senate.

Via The Seattle Times:

The bill was caught up in a Friday afternoon Republican budget coup, in which the GOP peeled off the necessary three Democratic votes to introduce an austere budget plan.

The abortion measure, HB 2330, had passed the House and Democrats expected it to have the votes necessary in the Senate, but two attempts to bring it to the floor were narrowly voted down in the aftermath of the budget coup.

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And once again, women’s access to abortion is used as a bargaining chip by politicians.

News Abortion

Iowa Republicans Again Force Showdown Over Medicaid Coverage of Abortions for Rape, Anomalies

Robin Marty

Forcing poor women to pay out-of-pocket or give birth to their rapists' baby has now become an outright vendetta in Iowa.

Iowa Republicans are taking yet another stab at removing all Medicaid funding for abortion in the state, this time writing an amendment into the state budget requesting that the funding be eliminated. Although the roughly 20 abortions per year that get paid that way are a result of either rape or fetal anomalies, strident anti-choice politicians have made removing that last vestige of assistance for poor women a vendetta since 2011.

Abortion opponents tried and failed to strip Medicaid coverage via a budget amendment in both 2011 and 2012, and sought out an “emergency rule” maneuver to strip it after the 2012 budget amendment failed. Iowa Right to Life condemned the governor’s office for blocking the emergency rule, declaring that it would seek other ways to “fix” the allowance of fetal anomaly abortions being funded by the state.

The “fix,” if this year’s legislative session and outside rallying is any indication, is to once more lump rape victims in with individuals whose pregnancies are compromised, and refuse to fund any abortions whatsoever. A new “no funding ever, even in cases of rape and anomaly” amendment was proposed by state Sen. Amy Sinclair (R-Allerton); it failed to pass the Senate.

Now, the state house has passed its own amendment, after GOP house leaders threatened to refuse to pass the budget without it. The added language will force the two bodies to once more fight it out in order to get a completed budget to the governor for approval.

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This continued effort comes just days after anti-choice political groups in Iowa rallied at the state house, demanding support for bills that would end Medicaid funding of every abortion for every reason, even if that means a complete logjam in governing. The Des Moines Register reported that “Greg Baker, the Family Leader’s political director, said lawmakers who oppose abortion need to take a ‘hard stand’ and to remain firm as long as necessary, even though it will be difficult when June arrives and there is increased pressure to pass a state budget.”

So once again, the state is likely to end its legislative session in another acrimonious, last-minute budget fight. For the third year in a row, a handful of lawmakers may hold the entire state budget hostage at the urging of anti-choice lobbyists, all for the sake of forcing some two dozen women each year to stay pregnant and give birth to the children of people who sexually assaulted them or to babies that have genetic defects.

News Abortion

Washington State Abortion Coverage Bill Dies in the Senate, Again

Robin Marty

Just like last year, a bill that would ensure that abortions are covered in all insurance plans that cover prenatal care never made it up for a vote.

The 2013 legislative session in Washington state is looking at lot like the 2012 one, at least when it comes to a bill that would require all insurance plans offered in the state to cover abortions if they cover prenatal care. The chair of the state senate committee hearing the bill has announce she will not let it go to the senate for a vote.

“The fact is that at this point, House Bill 1044 [the Reproductive Parity Act] is a solution in search of a problem,” said Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville), according to the Spokesman Review. “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.”

The problem, according to reproductive rights activists, is that insurers could conceivably stop covering abortions in their plans under new exchanges provided by the Affordable Care Act. In that case, Washington, which is known for its dedication to abortion access, would be left with fewer quality abortion care options. Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, the advocacy arm for Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, released the following statement: “[T]his bill would ensure that women—not politicians, nor bosses—make their own private medical decisions. At a time when states like North Dakota and Arkansas are passing the most restrictive laws attacking safe and legal abortion in the country, Washington State could do the right thing for women and ensure that insurance coverage for all of a woman’s pregnancy options remains the same as health care reform moves forward.”

A small but vocal band of anti-choice activists in the state have for years rallied against abortions paid for by insurance coverage, especially the state Medicaid program. They construe this as a “co-mingling” of local and federal support and claim it is a violation of the Hyde Amendment. This could easily morph into a larger anti-choice crusade, depending on state insurance coverage choices made as a part of the Affordable Care Act. The Reproductive Parity Act would have reinforced state residents’ belief that all women should have the right to choose, regardless of their economic means. Had the bill made it to the senate for a vote, supporters say they would have had the votes to pass it.

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An bill that was to the Reproductive Parity Act stalled in the state senate last year when it was held hostage in a fiscal “austerity budget” showdown.