Two bills have been scheduled for a hearing at 8 a.m. in the House HealthCare and Wellness Committee this Wednesday, February 7th.
Senate Bill 6219 does two different things:
- It requires every insurance policy to cover every form of FDA approved contraception, including those that many object to because they cause abortions.
- It requires every insurance policy that covers the birth of a baby to also pay someone to kill it.
Many employers, including religious organizations like the Catholic church, object to being forced to do things that violate their beliefs.
Senate Bill 5722 would restrict therapy dealing with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. Currently, therapists are allowed to help clients achieve whatever therapeutic objective they desire. If this bill were to become law, they would only be allowed to help clients embrace their same-sex attraction or identify with the opposite gender. Clients who wish not reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction, or identify with their biological sex would be forced to find help from unlicensed therapists.
The date of this hearing is unusual because February 7th is the day after the deadline the House has for hearing legislation that originated in the House. Typically, they would focus on floor action until February 14th, which is the deadline for passing legislation out of the House and to the Senate.
The fact that the House committee has already scheduled a hearing on Senate bills indicates that they are a priority.
Despite their obvious differences, these bills have something in common; they both address problems that don’t exist.
Access to abortion is not a problem in Washington State. Washington already has programs that pay for abortions for low-income people and every insurance policy in the state already covers it as well. Those who have looked for policies that don’t cover abortion have had to work very hard or move to faith-based, cost-sharing ministries like Samaritan Ministries to avoid subsidizing abortion.
In the same way, there is no evidence that the kind of abusive therapy SB 5722 claims to address is happening. In four years of legislative debate, not a single therapist has been identified as having abused clients in an effort to change their gender identity or sexual orientation.
So why prioritize legislation that addresses nonexistent problems?
The answer is probably raw political.
A common tactic of political majorities is to force the minority party to take “bad votes” that can be used against them in their next election. Because Democrats are in the majority in the Washington legislature, they control which bills come up for a vote. As such, a primary objective will be to force Republicans to take votes they can use against them in upcoming campaigns.
These bills lend themselves to politically useful campaign messages. Democrats are eager to accuse Republicans who might vote against them of supporting “torture therapy” and “denying women access to health care.”
They likely know that those accusations are almost entirely false, but it doesn’t really matter because they know their target audience is, in general, completely ignorant of the facts so the talking point carries the day.
We know that campaign season is full of political, drive-by shootings, but we are less familiar with the fact that the legislative session is the time to build your munitions stache.
Because legislators understand this game well, you may see, in this case, Republicans vote for bills you would expect them to oppose in an attempt to immunize themselves from the dishonest political ads once they are convinced their vote won’t make a difference anyway. The risk is that they alienate their base that expects them to oppose bad legislation simply because its bad.
While it’s possible that these bills are in some way motivated by a desire to stick a finger in the eye of people, businesses owners, or therapists who have sincere differences of opinion, the politics of policy should never be ignored.
If you want to stop your elected officials from passing legislation that harms people without helping anyone, we have to do things that haven’t been done before. They will need to hear from people who aren’t used to “getting involved in politics.”
You can start doing your part to make a difference by planning to attend the hearing this Wednesday and scheduling appointment to meet with your Representatives when you do. You can find who represents you by providing your address here.
In addition, Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.
If you’ve already done that, makes sure your friends and family are aware of these issues and encourage them to do something small to make a big difference.
Remember, it’s insanity to do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.