Healthcare Choice Should Be Allowed to All Women

Emily Minick is a senior legislative assistant at the Family Research Council and Danille Turissini is the grassroots director at the Family Policy Institute of Washington.

“Women in the state of Washington should be allowed to make their own informed decisions regarding their health and insurance coverage.”

We could not agree more.

It is ironic because this is the same argument supporters of H.B. 2148 the so-called “Reproductive Parity Act,” made during hearings and debate on this bill, but we oppose the bill. This bill would require every insurance carrier in the state of Washington to include “voluntary termination of pregnancy coverage” alongside their maternal benefits package. In other words, every one regardless of ethical concerns would be required to pay for elective abortion coverage.

Mandating that all insurance companies include elective abortion coverage in their plans is anything but allowing women to choose for themselves what plan works best for their life, family and values.

It seems that supporters of H.B. 2148 are only in favor of allowing women to make the “right” choice for abortion coverage. If a woman does not want elective abortion coverage included in her healthcare plan, as many women said in their testimony before committee, she will be forced into compliance or be left with no other choice but to forfeit maternity coverage. This is especially problematic for women of child-bearing age.

Currently, there is no lack of access to insurance plans that include elective abortion coverage. In fact, every insurance provider on the Washington state exchange includes abortion coverage, thereby, rendering H.B. 2148 totally unnecessary.

The mandate would affect not only the state exchange, but alsoemployer-based healthcare plans. If a private family business owner, due to their deeply held moral beliefs, does not want to provide elective abortion coverage in their employee healthcare plan, they could be forced to cease offering that coverage for their employees and their families, or pay massive fines of up to $100 per day per employee for non-compliance. These crippling fines are devastating for any size business and will cost $36,500 per year per employee.

Family businesses, their employees, and women should be able to choose which health plan is right for them without the state government coercing them to purchase a healthcare plan that includes elective abortion coverage.

No other state requires that all insurance companies operating in a state include elective abortion coverage, without question, without exception.

During the recent House Health Care and Wellness public hearing on H.B. 2148, Clark County Republican Rep. Paul Harris suggested an alternative mandate would be a requirement that insurance companies provide a summary of benefits that clearly state whether a policy covers abortion or not. Likewise, U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.) has sponsored “The Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act,” which essentially does the same thing, in that it requires all health care plans to inform consumers at the time of purchase about elective abortion coverage. In either case, state or federal, women who want to purchase a plan that includes elective abortion could do so, but women who do not wish to pay for elective abortion are not forced to do so.

Respecting the freedom of conscience is a long held American tradition. H.B. 2148, if passed, would not protect people of conscience nor protect women who do not want elective abortion coverage included in their healthcare plan.

H.B. 2148, the so-called Reproductive Parity Act, would eliminate choice, freedom and personal decision-making in women’s healthcare. There is no “parity” about this bill – it should be more accurately referred to as the “Abortion Insurance Mandate.”

All women in the state of Washington should be concerned about this bill and work to ensure no woman is forced into compliance by the state government simply because she holds her own opinion and beliefs.

Abortion Insurance Mandate Advances in Legislature

Yesterday in Olympia, the abortion insurance mandate bill advanced out of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee by a 9-8 vote that was strictly along party lines. All the Democrats voted for the bill and all the Republicans voted against it.

Some concerns with the bill can be found here.

Even those supporting the bill seem insecure about their position. During the hearing in the House, no members of the committee made any public statements in support of the bill.  Nor did any member of the committee attempt a response to the argument made by numerous women that women are smart enough to decide for themselves if abortion insurance was something they wanted to buy.

The supporters of this bill claim it is necessary in order to avoid confusion.

Since the hearing, numerous requests from constituents asking why it is preferable to force everyone to buy abortion insurance rather than to simply make it clear whether a policy covers abortion have been effectively ignored.

A companion to the Abortion Insurance Mandate (SB 6359) was introduced in the Senate this week as well and is being sponsored by 21 Democrats and no Republicans with Steve Hobbs as the prime sponsor.

A companion bill is a term given to a bill that is identical to a bill being considered in the opposite chamber.

Sen. Hobbs was also the prime sponsor of the mandate last year as well. Hobbs has been one of the more moderate members of the Senate Democratic caucus on some issues, but he could be using this issue to shore up support from the far left in an attempt to avoid getting a Democratic primary challenger in his upcoming re-election.

The bill passed the State House last year along mostly party lines but failed to get a vote in the Senate after the right of center Majority Coalition agreed not to bring the issue up for consideration.

The bill could face a similar fate this year as well.

You can contact your legislators about this, or any other bill through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them here.

Irony Abounds in Abortion Mandate Hearing

Monday afternoon the House Health and Wellness Committee held a hearing on HB 2148, which would require all insurance policies in Washington State to cover abortion. Proponents of the legislation refer to it as the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA).

Supporters of life and insurance choice significantly outnumbered abortion industry advocates, filling the hearing room and two over flow rooms as well.

Proponents of the bill argued that the mandate is necessary to ensure that women’s choices about their pregnancies are not dictated by their insurance coverage.

Rep. Paul Harris, from Vancouver, suggested an alternative to a mandate would be a requirement that the summary of benefits clearly state whether the policy covers abortion or not.

Dr. Annie Iriye, from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists countered that the mandate, rather than full disclosure, was necessary because some women who would say they don’t want an abortion may actually want one when they become pregnant.

Several women, including a young mother and a student, testified that women should have the choice to decide for themselves if they wanted abortion coverage and should not be forced into it by the government.

Everett business owner, Aaron Mischel, told the committee he did not want his company to be forced to purchase abortion insurance because he is morally opposed to abortion.  Mischel shared that his biological mother, who was raped, ultimately gave him up for an adoption after attempting to get an abortion.

Winner of the award for most ironic testimony was Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest.

Moments after six women had testified that they wanted the freedom to choose plans that did not cover abortion, she testified in support of the mandate saying that, “the purpose of the RPA is to make sure that women, (dramatic pause) women make decisions about the kind of health care they want.  Not insurance companies, not the government, not you, but women.”

Rose continued, “What we have always acknowledged in this state, is to acknowledge that women, even before Roe v. Wade, that women actually are competent, autonomous human beings who can make these kinds of decisions. And these decisions shouldn’t be made for them.”

She ended her remarks saying, “I would hope you would recognize that women can make those decisions with their families and their god.”

It was as if the fact that she was trying to take away women’s ability to choose the kind of insurance they want was completely lost on her.

Angela Connelly, President of the Washington Women’s Network, summarized the opposition testimony well when she said, “This bill is not about access to abortion. This is a bullying bill. It’s not about choice. It’s about taking away choice.”

You can watch the entire hearing online by clicking here.

You can also contact your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or you can email them by clicking here.

Pro-Choicer’s Rally Against Choice

Today in Olympia, the House Health Care and Wellness committee will hold a hearing on HB 2148 which is a new version of an old idea to require every insurance policy to cover abortion.  The hearing will be at 1:30 in House Hearing Room B in the John L. O’Brien building on the capitol campus

It is open to the public or you can watch it online here.

This bill is uniquely bad because it would take away the freedoms of millions of Washington citizens while providing no tangible benefits to anyone.

Proponents of the bill say it is necessary to require every insurance policy to cover abortion in order to ensure that women won’t be denied abortion insurance.  The problem is, that’s not a problem.

Not a single person, in two years of legislative debate over this proposal, has ever testified that they had a trouble getting abortion coverage with their insurance policy.  This is like a bill mandating adequate cloud cover in Seattle.  Really, we’re good.

When first introduced two years ago, proponents of the bill claimed a mandate was necessary to make sure people who wanted abortion coverage within the Obamacare exchanges had options.  Federal law allows states to opt-out of providing abortion coverage through the exchanges (twenty-one states have done so) and also prohibits the use of federal dollars for abortion.

The abortion industry said they were concerned that these factors would result in exchanges that offer coverage for everything but abortion.

However, when the policies were announced last year, the result was that every plan and every provider under the exchange covered abortion. Crisis over, right?

Not so fast.

According to an email from Planned Parenthood late last week, this bill is still necessary because of “confusion” over which policies cover abortion.

And for three weeks there was confusion…kind of.

When the plans were first announced, one provider, Group Health, said their four plans would not cover abortion. Instead, they were just going to offer them for free in their clinics to those who had their coverage.

This result was outrageous to abortion industry advocates who somehow managed to argue that giving away free abortions represented a “barrier to access“. Indignation was summoned and press releases were issued.  When the dust had settled, Group Health had changed their mind and now offers abortion coverage.

That means that every plan within the exchange and every company in the private market offers abortion coverage.

Still, they argue that brief three week period, in which four of the thirty-one plans under the Obamacare exchange were going to give abortions away rather than insure them, requires the state to outlaw the sale of insurance policies that don’t cover abortion.

In reality, it appears their frustration is not that women don’t have the option to buy abortion insurance, but that some of them don’t.

As Planned Parenthood said in an email rallying support for the mandate, “some women are buying insurance plans today that don’t include fair coverage for all their pregnancy options – including abortion.”

There are two reasons this might bother you. Either you dislike consumer choice generally or you don’t think women are smart enough to know how to buy the kind of insurance they want and you feel the need to protect them from their own ignorance by making it impossible not to buy abortion coverage.

Abortion industry advocates are also hoping this bill would solve the “problem” of employers buying plans for their employees that do not cover abortion.  Employers would lose that freedom if this bill became law.

Companies like Hobby Lobby, private universities, faith-based non-profits, and even churches would be forced to pay for abortion coverage even if it violates their conscience, their faith, or even the mission of the organization itself.

Can you imagine requiring an organization whose mission is to save babies from abortion to pay for abortion through their insurance?

They can.

If you can’t be in Olympia today to testify at the hearing, you can call your legislator through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 to share your thoughts on HB 2148.  If you call the hotline, the friendly operator will tell you who you are represented by when you provide your address and deliver a brief, respectful message from you.

You can also click here to email your legislators.

Remember, in any communication with your legislators, it isn’t important to be brilliant but it’s very important to be heard.  Two sentences stating your position is enough because it lets you be counted.  They assume every phone call and email represents a bunch of voters who agree with you.

So do your part and then encourage a friend to do the same.

 

Your contribution of $5 of more allows us to fight for conscience rights. 

Obamacare Abortion Coverage in Washington

Over the last couple years, the abortion industry in Washington has done a lot of hand-wringing over the possibility that some insurance plans sold in Washington would not cover abortion.

When it was passed, the Affordable Care Act gave states the right not to cover abortion in their health care exchanges.

Eighteen states passed legislation specifically prohibiting abortion coverage in their exchanges.

Of course Washington was not one of them.

We continue to have an A+ rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League for our unambiguously pro-abortion policies.

However, because of the prohibition on federal funding for abortion,  (which the Obama administration is apparently not interested in enforcing) there was uncertainty about how abortion coverage would be treated in the Obamacare exchanges.

The abortion industry’s response was to promote an abortion insurance mandate and require every insurance policy to cover abortion.

And why not?

Can you even imagine the harm that would result if a woman wanting abortion coverage inadvertently purchased a policy without it?

What? You think women are smart enough to figure out if they are buying abortion coverage or not?

You obviously hate women.

Regardless, we no longer have to discuss hypotheticals, because Obamacare is here now. We passed it so now we get to find out what’s in it.  And hasn’t that been like an early Christmas present.

Here in Washington State, there is only one insurance policy on the exchange that doesn’t cover abortion.  That plan is the Blue Cross Multi-state options administered by Premera.

Every other plan?  You guessed it. They cover abortion. And a mad scramble is underway to make sure everyone knows it.

Now that the facts are in, a mandate to force everyone to buy abortion insurance as a way of making abortion insurance available appears to be unnecessary.

It would be like a mandate to run beer commercials during football games. They got it covered.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t revive the mandate.  And the reason why is buried in the name of the legislation…the Reproductive Parity Act.  They aren’t primarily concerned with making sure women have access to abortion.  That’s status quo.  They want to create parity between birth and abortion. They’re angry that moral disapproval of abortion exists and that people have the right to express that through their purchasing decisions.

So they want to take that right away.  After all, they’re “pro-choice”.

If you’re pro-choice in the true sense, and you’d like more choices than the current Obamacare exchange offers, consider Samaritan Ministries, a Christian cost sharing ministry that my family and I are part of.

We made the switch when our monthly premium reached $1,800/month. Now we pay $350/month to cover our family of 6.

Membership in this ministry allows you to avoid the Obamacare fine/tax and is much less expensive than what people are paying through Obamacare.

It works too.  I have a two-year old son that is a danger to himself and others.  He has been to the ER three times and we pay only the first $300 of every incident.  The remainder is covered by checks from families all over the country who are helping to share the burden.

We are also blessed with the chance to send our prayers and a check to another family with medical costs every month as well.  It’s people helping people, and the government isn’t even involved. Who ever heard of such a thing?

Yes, it’s a commercial. No, I wasn’t asked to plug them nor are we compensated in any way for doing so.  But it might be a blessing for your family.