Thanks to reproductive rights voters and the pro-choice legislators they elected, a landmark health care bill is poised to pass in Washington State. The Reproductive Parity Act will require insurance companies to cover abortion care and birth control. These are important steps toward addressing the reproductive health disparities and cost barriers throughout the state. The bill will affirm Washington State as a national leader in ensuring Washingtonians have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care, regardless of their income or zip code.
The Reproductive Parity Act, SB 6219, ensures that all people who can become pregnant are able to meet their basic wellness needs and access reproductive health care through their insurance plan by:
Improving Contraceptive Access: Many people need birth control, but they don’t all need the same birth control or for the same reasons. Insurance plans should cover all contraceptive options. This legislation improves access to contraception by requiring insurance coverage of all FDA-approved birth control methods without cost-sharing, delay, or denial of coverage.
Guaranteeing Reproductive Parity: A right isn’t a right without access. For many who need access to abortion care, the cost of an abortion is a significant barrier. This legislation improves access to reproductive health care options by requiring that all insurance companies cover abortion care if they cover maternity care.
Studying Reproductive Health Disparities: We know that marginalized communities, especially communities of color, have more difficulty accessing health care and often receive lower-quality health care in our current system. This bill requires a review of existing data on disparities that negatively impact reproductive, sexual, and maternal health care outcomes for people of marginalized communities. This step will help policymakers better prioritize the urgent work needed to address these disparities.
Washingtonians deserve to have the full spectrum of their health care needs addressed in a comprehensive way, without cost barriers or stigma. Abortion care is health care. So are contraception and maternity care. Our public policy should respect and reflect those fundamental facts.
The passage of the Reproductive Parity Act, which has been proposed every year since 2012, years proves that elections matter, and that the new Democratic majority in Washington State is already getting results for Washington women, in contrast to other states where abortion and reproductive rights are under constant attack. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington members worked hard to flip control of the state senate and elect pro-choice legislators like 45th District Sen. Manka Dhingra. This legislation is the kind of health care policy that results when pro-choice voters turn out at the polls, and NARAL members look forward to seeing our pro-choice Governor, Jay Inslee, sign this historic bill into law.
Every election matters, and even larger pro-choice majorities lead to even bolder victories for reproductive freedom. Do you want to see the state legislature do more than just review the literature that proves people of color have worse maternal outcomes and access to preventative health care and actually improve those outcomes? Do you want to see the legislature take steps to guarantee gender affirming therapies so that transgender Washingtonians can access the reproductive health care they need? Do you want to ensure undocumented immigrants aren’t excluded from accessing a full range of reproductive health care?
If the answer is yes, then you know why it’s important to elect pro-choice leaders—leaders who are accountable to their communities, who listen when barriers are pointed out, and who aren’t afraid to take visionary action to expand access. We won this majority because of people showing up and turning out to vote. In the coming election cycle, more than 60 pro-choice legislators across the state will be up for re-election, and there will be opportunities to flip some anti-choice seats to pro-choice legislators, solidifying our pro-choice majority. NARAL is ready to organize, turn out, and to pass even bolder pro-choice legislation in the coming years.
Because the fight is more critical than ever.
Tiffany Hankins is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in Washington State.