For three years in a row, an abortion insurance mandate has passed the Washington State House of Representatives but failed to pass in the Senate.
Not to be deterred, a handful of Washington State Senators have renewed an effort to force Washington businesses with conviction about the issue of life and abortion to violate their conscience.
They call SB 6493 the “employee reproductive choice act,” but in effect it simply denies employers the freedom to make choices in their business that are consistent with sincerely held beliefs.
The bill would make it an “unfair practice” for an employer “to fail to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost to the employee.”
The bill, however, does not simply require that an employer provide contraceptive coverage, but that it provide coverage “pursuant to the affordable care act.”
The affordable care act specifically mentions twenty different kinds of birth control an employer must be willing to pay for. Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts company that successfully challenged the mandate as a violation of federal law, was willing to pay for sixteen of the twenty prescribed forms of the birth control but objected to four of them because of their belief that they would end a life.
This bill would deny Washington businesses the protections provided by federal law and require them to pay for specific kinds of contraception that many millions of Americans believe are immoral.
By making it an “unfair practice,” this issue would fall under the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission and the state’s law against discrimination, which could then be enforced by the Attorney General’s office.
Both of these agencies have demonstrated their willingness to be intensely partisan when it comes to interpreting and enforcing the law — particularly when social issues are implicated.
The Human Rights Commission enacted a transgender bathroom policy mandating that all schools and public accommodations make allow their bathrooms to be used based on gender identity or expression. The controversial new rule effectively allows men access to women’s private spaces so long as they “identify” or “express” their self as a woman.
One of the public meetings that no one knew about—allegedly intended to allow the public to provide comment on the rules before they were finalized—was held at an LGBT support center in Pierce County.
Clearly they were looking for input from a cross section of Washington citizens.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson has also demonstrated his willingness to use his office for partisan purposes as well. He not only sued Barronelle Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers for declining to provide floral services for a same-sex wedding but he also filed a lawsuit against rural hospitals to force them to perform abortions rather than refer them.
If passed, this bill would give the Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General the authority to deal with businesses who, like Hobby Lobby, have every desire to be the best employers they can but are unwilling to pay for something they believe will end a human life.
All in the name of ending discrimination.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Health Care committee and has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing. To see which senators are sponsoring this bill, click here. To track the progress of this bill and other bills of interest, check out our Bill Tracker at the Legislative Hub. To email your elected officials all at once about this or any other issue, click here. You can also call your elected officials through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.