On Wednesday, Washington State’s answer to Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) passed out of the state senate after YEARS of Republican obstruction. The Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) would require insurers that cover maternity to care to also cover abortion.
Spokane's Spokesman-Review has some delightful accounting of the GOP's objections to the RPA, including some seriously tone-deaf amendments—banning abortions for race- or sex-selection is a tool anti-choice politicians often pull out in a misleading attempt to curtail reproductive rights (the bans are also pretty damn racist):
Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, offered amendments to ban abortions for sex selection, sexual orientation and Down syndrome. “Those of us who believe abortion involves two people believe all God’s children should be protected,” he said.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said a ban on sex selection abortions was necessary to protect girls.
“Little girls have every right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said. “This amendment is necessary so we don’t have pre-natal sex discrimination.”
Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, countered all proposed amendments by saying the bill had been carefully crafted over years and thanking their sponsors – all of whom were men – “for offering his opinion in regards to this important women’s health policy.”
Let's see that again: 🔥 "All failed." 🔥
Years ago, I set up a Google alert for "reproductive parity act." This week, it started blowing up my Gmail account. I say this not because I was into reproductive rights legislation before it was cool, but because it took years to get this piece of legislation out of Washington's State Senate. This is from the Spokesman-Review's coverage:
Democrats had tried for several years, when they were in the minority, to get a vote on what they have labeled the Reproductive Parity Act. In the majority this year, they had the votes to bring it to the floor.
“The decision to have an abortion is a difficult, painful decision,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, who has sponsored the bill for six years. “It’s her decision. This places trust where it belongs.”
Republicans, who at one point argued it should be called the Abortion Insurance Mandate Law, offered several amendments, including allowing exemptions for employers with objections based on religion or conscience.
This was the latest of many attempts to pass this bill out of ONE CHAMBER of the state legislature. Gentle reminder: Progress. Is. Slow. And while it's possible when activists and lawmakers stay the course in their efforts to rally support for paradigm-shifting policies like RHEA and the RPA, another key lies in flipping state legislatures. When we have the votes, it's possible for the states’ rights route to get us closer to reproductive justice goals. Anti-choice politicians in red states have been using this approach for ages to advance their own Gilead-like agenda. Why not coopt it to turn the west coast into a blue wall? With pro-choice legislation on the books in California and now in Oregon, we're closer than we've ever been.