Amid increasingly egregious attacks on women's healthcare nationwide, the Washington State Senate passed a bill on Wednesday to expand women's healthcare coverage in the state, including access to reproductive health services.
The bill (SB 5912), sponsored by Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36), Karen Keiser (D-33), Adam Kline (D-37), and Cheryl Pflug (R-5), would expand Washington's Take Charge program, which provides birth control and basic reproductive healthcare to low-income women throughout the state.
It is now being considered in the House Ways and Means Committee, with a hearing and possible committee vote scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.
"Estimates are that the increase in Take Charge eligibility will serve between 6,000 and 12,000 more women," said Alison Mondi, director of communications and public policy at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, when reached by email today. That is, low-income women who are currently either paying through the nose for birth control (that shit is expensive) or, you know, being screwed without coverage or protection. The bill will accomplish this by expanding program eligibility from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 250 percent.
Mondi says passing this bill will also save the state money, since it would reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, which currently cost the state $2.8 million every year.
"It's good news," said Mondi. "We are optimistic that this will pass the house as well."
Good news for women's healthcare funding is increasingly rare in a year marked by budget cuts and Republicans' weirdly specific and creepily self-righteous fervor against women's healthcare and organizations like Planned Parenthood. Kansas just passed brand-spanking new restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion, and a master plan for nationwide abortion parental consent laws was recently proposed by some congressman named Boozman.
Even in Olympia, lawmakers briefly considered cutting funds for Take Charge last fall in an effort to close the budget shortfall.