First-of-its-kind legislation is making its way through the Washington state legislature that would require all insurers cover abortions.
The bill, H.B. 2330, requires insurers that provide maternity care coverage, which Washington mandates for its insurers, also to pay for abortions. The measure already passed Washington's House and currently is pending in the Senate. However, the legislation does include a conscience exemption for health plans that have a religious objection to providing such coverage, reported the Associated Press.
Abortion coverage is a hot topic in state legislatures, although most other states are prohibiting coverage. In fact, 27 states are considering or already have restricted insurers from providing abortion coverage. Washington, along with New York, are the only states considering mandating abortion coverage for its insurers, according to Seattle Weekly.
Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Wash.) introduced the legislation out of concern for healthcare reform's special accounting laws, which require insurers collect two payments from every enrollee, one for the general fund and the other for a specific abortion fund. Intended to prevent federal funds from being spent on abortion, Cody worries the accounting provision will be too burdensome for insurers, compelling them to drop abortion coverage altogether.
"We weren't sure that abortion would be offered in the exchanges because the federal law sets up a lot of barriers to that," Cody told The Washington Post. "We wanted to make sure that choice would be available."