SUPPORTING a woman’s right to choose is a Washington value.
Voters here legalized abortion in 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision made it the law of the land.
In 1991, voters passed Initiative 120, protecting this private decision even if federal law is overturned. The law required the state to begin providing comparable coverage for both maternal care and abortions.
The Legislature should pass Senate Bill 5009, the Reproductive Parity Act, which would maintain insurance coverage for women seeking abortions after federal health reforms take effect in January 2014. By then, the state is expected to operate its own health-insurance exchange.
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This layer of protection is necessary because passage of the Affordable Care Act required lawmakers to compromise on abortion rules. Pro-abortion-rights advocates worry women in Washington are at risk of losing access to the procedure.
A version of SB 5009 passed the House last year, but stalled in the Senate. This time, Democratic state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, is co-sponsoring the bill with state Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.
Opponents argue the measure may run afoul of laws that prohibit federal financing for elective abortions. Supporters say the bill addresses those concerns.
Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, an abortion opponent and chair of the Senate Health Care Committee, has said she would keep an open mind about the issue. She should do more. Hold a hearing on the matter.
Gov. Jay Inslee promises to sign the bill. The Legislature must first send it to his desk.
A woman’s decision to become a mother shouldn’t be determined by a lack of resources or insurance.
It’s a deeply personal choice between a patient and her doctor. Washington state has a history of respecting that right and should continue to protect it.