OLYMPIA – A bill to link abortion coverage to maternity care was defeated Friday in the Washington state Senate.
The bill was caught up in a late-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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Friday at 5 p.m. was the cutoff to introduce non-budgetary bills to the floor of either legislative chamber.
Among those professing support for the bill but voting against it coming to the floor was Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. Litzow said allowing debate and a vote on the bill would have unacceptably opened the floodgates for other bills.
“I am really disappointed that the Democrat leadership couldn’t get this bill to the floor,” said Litzow, asserting that it should have been introduced days or even weeks earlier.
Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, rejected this line of reasoning.
“The toughest bills are always at the last,” she said. “Always.”
The bill is likely dead for this session, but could be taken up again in a special session — and could be used as a bargaining chip in budget negotiations.
Supporters say the bill would ensure continued access to abortion coverage once federal health care changes are enacted in 2014.