Conscience Rights Debates in Olympia

The debate over conscience rights is one of the mostly hotly debated issues in America today.

Stories about fire chiefs being fired because of their beliefs about homosexuality and efforts to force businesses to participate in same-sex ceremonies often headline the conscience rights debate. But the debate over whether the government can compel someone to do something they prefer not to do is taking place in other arenas as well.

Last month the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the Arkansas prison system could not prohibit a Muslim prisoner from growing a beard as he believes he is required to do.

In the Washington State legislature, three different pieces of legislation are dealing with the issue of whether individuals can be compelled to do things that violate their beliefs.

1.  Abortion Insurance Mandate

For the past three years, the abortion industry has been working to require every insurance policy bought and sold in the private market to cover abortion insurance.  This proposal would make it illegal for someone with a moral objection to abortion to purchase for themselves, their family, or their business a policy that will not subsidizing abortion.

Having been defeated for three years in a row, abortion industry advocates came back this year with a bill that is even worse.  SB 5574 and HB 1647 would not only require every policy to subsidize elective abortions and controversial forms of contraception, but would also require coverage for voluntary sterilization as well.

The number of legislators co-sponsoring these bills has declined significantly over previous years.  This could be a reflection of the fact that some legislators are growing tired of justifying their attempts to force people to pay for things they believe are wrong.

However, a public hearing in the House of Representatives on this issue is expected soon.

2. Overturning Hobby Lobby

Last summer, the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, ruled that privately held companies could not be forced to pay for contraception coverage that violated their conscience.  The Court said that such a mandate violated the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act because there are ways for the government to make contraception available without violating the freedoms of business owners.

In response, Washington State legislators have introduced SB 5026 and HB 1502 which would make sure the religious freedoms protections recognized by the Supreme Court would not extend to Washington businesses.

The bill would require every Washington State employer to pay for objectionable forms of contraception even if they are willing to provide other forms of contraception.

3.  Accommodating the Rights of Religious Objectors

As you probably know, many jobs in Washington State require union membership. For the privilege of educating children, teachers in Washington are required to pay around $1,000 per year to the teacher’s union.

Teacher’s unions in Washington State support many far left causes that are inconsistent with the values of many teachers. For that reason, the law recognizes the rights of religious objectors to opt out of paying union dues and instead contribute the funds that otherwise would go to the union to a charitable cause.

However, employees attempting to exercise these rights have run into challenges.

First, the law states that the beliefs of a religious objector must be “based on bona fide religious tenets or teachings of a church or religious body of which such public employee is a member.” This language allows unions to force employees to prove that their beliefs are explicitly written in the governing documents of a church they are part of.

Secondly, the law requires the union to agree with the employees choice of charity they would like to contribute to in lieu of paying union dues.  This has led to unnecessarily complicated negotiations when a particular union boss wants to control which charity an employee supports.  One religious objector who testified in support of this legislation yesterday was told the only approved charity was the far left American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Senate Bill 5552 strengthens conscience rights and makes it harder for unions to harass employees who disagree with how the union spends money.

First, it allow a religious objector to opt out of membership simply for having a “personally held religious belief” and thereby eliminates the need to prove that it is an official religious tenet of a specific religious organization.

Secondly, it allows the employee to direct their union dues to any non-profit that participates in the Washington state combined fund drive program and thereby eliminate the ability of the union to choose which charity the religious objector supports.

Both changes would further expand conscience rights and make it harder for people to be harassed because of their beliefs.

If you are part of a union and would like to know how to stop supporting causes you disagree with click here.

Each of these bills is currently being debated in the state legislature and each of them will help determine the trajectory of the conscience rights and religious freedom debate in Washington State.

The homosexual lobby, the abortion industry, and union interests are all powerful political forces that each have their own reasons for wanting to restrict your conscience rights.

In addition, their significant campaign contributions have earned them a great deal of political influence despite their strong opposition to individual freedom and conscience rights.

It is up to us to be a counterbalance.

If you have thoughts about any of these issues, contact your legislator through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

Remember, freedom is not the status quo. It has been earned at a great price and must be defended with vigilance. Every day, those who want to take away your freedoms are busy in Olympia trying to do so.  The least we can do is make a phone call.

Parental Notification: Why You Should Care & Hearing Information

On Monday, February 2nd at 1:30 PM in the Senate Law and Justice Committee, there will be a hearing on SB 5289 which will require parents to be notified before a minor has an abortion.

The United States is one of only six nations in the world that allow abortion on demand into the third trimester and Washington is one of only thirteen states currently where a minor can get an abortion without her parents awareness.

We are on the fringe of the fringe.

Abortion is the only procedure a minor can get without her parent’s consent, much less notification. In Washington State, a minor cannot get a tattoo or go to a sunbed even with parental permission. She cannot go to an R rated movie or get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental permission.

However, she can get an abortion without their awareness.

There are a couple problems with the lack of parental notification. First, it isolates girls from their parents in moments when they most need parental involvement.

Second, the lack of parental notification makes it possible for abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to assist in the sex trafficking of minors, as documented here, here, and here.

Since medical providers are not obligated to notify parents when a minor indicates she wants an abortion, they are only required to report if a rape has occurred. In the case of a pregnant minor, that means the father is more than 5 years older than the mother.

Unfortunately, the mandatory reporting requirement for rape is easily avoided by serial abusers.

Under the threat of abuse, pimps teach the girls they abuse to lie about the age of the father and organizations like Planned Parenthood tell clients to say as little as possible so they can maintain plausible deniability. As a result, those who claim to be –and should be– looking out for the best interest of these girls are in reality assisting in the abuse of children. Our lack of parental notification makes it possible.

Opponents of the bill claim that parental notification endangers girls whose parents might become abusive when they learn their daughter is pregnant. They say the girl should decide what her parents know.

They assume that in crisis you can trust the judgment of the typical pregnant 15-year old better than the judgment of the typical parent. While it is understandable why a girl would not want to tell her parents, it is equally understandable why it would be good for her parents to know despite the child’s reservations.

Acknowledging that there are too many abusive parents in the world, it is an insult to every parent in Washington that the abortion industry and their allies in the legislature act as though they have a duty to protect our daughters from us.

By requiring parental notification, this bill acknowledges that it is generally a good thing for parents to know what is going on with their children. However, it also contains a judicial bypass provision which would allow a judge to waive the parental notification requirement in the minority of cases in which a child actually could be in danger. It protects those truly at risk without assuming every parent is a danger. That’s what rational public policy should do.

The possibility that parents might respond poorly to news that their daughter is pregnant is an argument for keeping parents out of every decision. After all, parents might also respond poorly to news that their child has committed a crime or received bad grades in school. But for good reason, we still tell them.

The argument that we should favor keeping parents in the dark in order to protect the children is incoherent. That incoherence exposes the fact that the more likely explanation has much more to do with money the abortion industry makes off of children which eventually finds its way to political campaigns.

Parental notification is not an issue about abortion. It is an issue about parental rights and the well-being of our daughters. It is a disagreement between politicians who pretend they care more about our children than we do and the parents who know better.

Please attend the hearing on Monday at 1:30 PM in Hearing Room 4 of the John A. Cherberg building on the capitol campus. The hearing room is certain to be full, so show up early. Even if you do not wish to testify, your presence communicates the injustice of this issue to legislators who have been dragging their heels for years on this issue. Please bring friends as well and call ahead to schedule meetings with your legislators in person to share your thoughts on this issue.

If you cannot attend the hearing, please call your legislators directly or through the legislative hotline at1-800-562-6000. You can also email them by clicking here.

Thank you for rejecting passivity and standing for what is just.

Senators Seek to Overturn Hobby Lobby Decision

Last year, one of the biggest developments in the national debate over conscience rights was the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contained a mandate requiring employers to cover twenty specific types of birth control in the insurance plans they purchased for their employees.

Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, objected to four of the twenty forms of birth control on the grounds that they could cause an abortion. As a result, they filed a lawsuit claiming that the mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Supreme Court agreed with them in a 5-4 decision.

In response, a group of State Senators have introduced the Employee Reproductive Choice Act (SB 5026). The bill creates a state version of the mandate which the Supreme Court said could not be imposed by the federal government.

This bill would force every business in Washington to cover twenty specific forms of contraception in the insurance policies, including some that cause abortion.

It was sponsored by every Democrat Senator except Senators Hargrove and Sheldon. (For the past two years, Tim Sheldon has been caucusing with the Republicans).

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, the state likely has the authority to create such a mandate.  Because Washington State does not have a RFRA, and the federal RFRA does not apply to state law, the federal protections are greater than what appear to exist at the state level.

While eighteen states have adopted a state version of RFRA that extends the higher level of protection state law as well, Washington State is not one of them.

Of course, the fact that Washington State could impose such a mandate does not mean that they should.

For the past three years, the Washington State House passed an Abortion Insurance Mandate requiring every private insurance policy to cover abortion. Each year the bill died in the Senate. Proponents of that mandate claimed it was necessary to ensure that women were not denied access to abortion because her employer’s unwillingness to pay for abortion insurance. However, in three years of debate, no one testified that an abortion had ever been denied or even delayed for lack of insurance.

At least hundreds of women communicated the fact that they wanted choice in the kind of insurance they purchased.

Arguments in support of this new mandate are equally tenuous.

The bill states that employers must be forced to pay for abortion inducing drugs because, “women with reliable access to contraceptive services have forty percent higher earnings than those who lack such access, and access to contraception can significantly increase a woman’s earning power and narrow the gender pay gap.”

All this time I’ve been telling my daughters that kindness, hard work, and good choices are going to make them successful in life. Maybe there really is a pill for that.

Fortunately, the prospects for this bill in the Senate do not appear to be strong. It has been assigned to the Senate Law & Justice committee which is chaired by Senator Mike Padden, who is not thought to be supportive of the proposal. A House companion bill was introduced yesterday (HB 1502).

Regardless of these bills’ success this year, this is yet another assault on conscience rights and a reminder of the continued need for vigilance.

The left in Washington State is working hard to create a work environment in which the willingness to participate in same-sex ceremonies and pay for abortion are preconditions to being in business.

They’re effectively creating the type of theocracy they claim to despise.

In this theocracy, government is god, the gay wedding is the worship service, and abortion is the sacrament. Provided you attend services and partake of the sacrament as often as god requires, you are welcome to participate in the marketplace. If not, they’ll cast you out until you repent.

But it’s for your own good.

To share your thoughts about this or any bill, you are encouraged to call your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

Telemedicine Bill Introduced This Morning

This morning, a telemedicine bill (SB 5175) was introduced into the Senate. A similar bill was introduced last year that would have allowed payment for medical services done remotely. This is generally seen as an advance in health care because it makes it easier for people who live in rural areas to access health care.  While SB 5175 does not normally fall under our four core issues (life, marriage, parental rights, and religious freedom), one little detail caught our attention: webcam abortions.

Reasons for concern with webcam abortions:

  • Webcam abortions would give doctors the ability to prescribe more chemical abortions with fewer qualified staff
  • Washington State does not require parental notification for abortion, so potentially, young girls could be prescribed a chemical abortion without the parent’s knowledge
  • There is the possibility that young girls could be hundreds of miles away from the medical professional who prescribed the chemical abortion

This is simply dangerous.

Although suggestions were made to remove sections which included webcam abortions in last year’s bill, no changes were made during the session. Thankfully, the bill died in the Senate. However, the section concerning webcam abortions seem to still be the same as last year’s bill.

While last year’s bill was stopped in the Senate, it has come back this session and will be on our “bills to watch list.” We will continue to keep you updated on this bill and other in our Legislative Center.

8 Things to Know About the Legislature

Today is the first day of a new 105 day session. Those we elected will begin legislative hearings and ultimately will make hundreds of decisions that will affect our lives.

During the next 105 days, we hope you will take the time to introduce yourself to your legislators and let them know how you feel about the issues you care about. The squeaky wheel usually does get the grease. Be kind, polite, and respectful, but be squeaky. And get your friends to be squeaky too.

Whether you’re considering if you should get involved or wondering how, here are eight things to remember about dealing with the legislature.

1. In politics, might makes right: The ideas that win in the legislature aren’t necessarily the best ideas, but the ideas with the most political support. You may be able to prove that your position will save money and lives, but if those who disagree with you have more political influence, they’re probably going to win anyway. You don’t have to like it, but you should believe it. So the key to influencing policy decisions is to make sure that supporting good ideas is politically advantageous. That means bringing people with you.

2. Everyone has good intentions: No one goes to the legislature saying, “I will become a tool that interest groups use to accomplish their purposes at the expense of the public.” They may have bad ideas, and they may eventually regret some of their decisions, but in their own mind they are generally doing the right thing for the right reasons. So if you want to build a relationship with your elected officials and ultimately influence them, don’t begin your conversation by accusing them of willfully causing harm. Give their motives the benefit of the doubt in the same way you hope others will do that for you.

3. Yes, you can make a difference: By virtue of being in elected office, many legislators are inherently insecure. In most cases, state elected officials were elected by a few thousand votes and some by only a few hundred (or less). They know that upsetting a significant number of voters is a good way to lose an election. As a result, your ability to generate even 20 phone calls or emails in a single day on an issue can make a big impact. They know that voters who care enough to contact them about an issue will also be willing to cast a vote on that issue as well.

4. Legislators are people too: None of us has performed perfectly in our jobs. We all need encouragement and we are all subject to being worn down by constant criticism. Yes, when someone runs for office there is a lot they are volunteering for, but encouragement and kindness is universally appreciated. In your dealings with elected officials, kindness is not only the right thing to do, it’s also much more likely to be effective.

5. Quantity is better than quality: Because the best argument doesn’t always win, it is a better use of time to spend two hours convincing 5 or 10 other people who share your perspective to contact their legislators than to spend it writing an irrefutable treatise on why your position is the right position. Of course you want to make good arguments, but good arguments without public support often don’t make it very far. So when it comes to communication with legislators, think quantity more than quality.

6. Legislators aren’t experts on everything: Every year, thousands of bills are introduced and hundreds are voted on. But it simply isn’t possible for a legislator to be an expert on every issue or understand the details of each bill. For the most part, legislators specialize on a few issues and then take advice from those they trust. They don’t want to be ignorant any more than you want them to be ignorant, but they know better than to believe everything they hear. So build credibility and become the educator they need on the issues you care about.

7. Personal communication is better communication: Lots of people ask what the most effective way to communicate with a legislator is. Really, it’s probably not that different than the most effective way to communicate with you. If someone shows up at your home or office to personally share concerns with you, that will probably make more of an impact on you than if they send an email. In general, here’s the most effective ways to communicate with your elected officials:

  1. personal visit
  2. hand-written letter
  3. personal phone call
  4. personal email or hotline message
  5. form email

While more personal communication is more effective, it remains true that quantity is better than quality. One hundred phone calls means a lot more than one personal visit. But one hundred personal visits is much better than one hundred phone calls. So be personal, but make sure you get lots of other people to do the same.

8. 1-800-562-6000: If you want to vent on the go, use the legislative hotline number. Program it into your phone right now because it allows you to contact your legislators even if you don’t know who they are. When you call this number you’ll reach a legislative hotline operator who will tell you who represents you once you provide your address then deliver whatever message you want to the Governor, your State Senator, and both your State Representatives. It isn’t the best way to communicate with your legislators, but sometimes it’s the best you can do and it’s a lot better than doing nothing.

Thank you for being part of the team to create a culture in Washington that recognizes the significance and the sanctity of the family.

To learn more about about the legislature and how you can help make a difference, sign up for our weekly Olympia 101 classes that will be taking place in Olympia throughout the session.

2015 Session: Bills to Watch For

On Monday, a newly elected Washington State legislature will begin the new legislative session. The Washington State Senate continues to be controlled by a 26-23 Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) majority. Where last year, that majority was comprised of 24 Republicans and 2 Democrats, this year it is comprised of 25 Republicans and 1 Democrat.

The Washington State House has a 51-47 Democrat majority, a gain of four seats for the Republicans.

The primary task of each new legislative session is to pass a budget that will fund operations through 2017. Last month, Governor Jay Inslee proposed a budget that includes $1.4 billion in new taxes, including a new state capital gains tax. That proposal has already been met with some skepticism in the Senate.

But every session involves debates over non-budgetary matters. The influence of the abortion industry and the homosexual lobby is felt every year in Olympia. Thanks to the persistence of citizens like you and the courage of many legislators, their worst ideas have been stopped in the legislature for several years.

But here is a look at four issues we think could be debated in the legislature in the upcoming session.

Abortion Insurance Mandate: Senate Bill 5026 would require every private insurance company in Washington State to cover abortion. Every insurer already offers abortion, but under current law individuals and companies are free to purchase insurance that does not cover it if they prefer. This bill has been defeated in the Senate for the last three years.

Forcing Religious Hospitals to Perform Abortions: The abortion industry is increasingly concerned with the fact that Catholic hospitals are merging with public hospitals because Catholic hospitals are unwilling to perform abortions. Groups supportive of the abortion industry held a number of community events around the state over the summer and circulated a petition in support of legislation that would require religious hospitals to perform abortions in violation of their beliefs. We are not yet aware of specific legislation to address this issue but are preparing for it.

Payment for Webcam Abortions: This bill would facilitate payments from state sources for telemedicine, or medical consultations done remotely via computer. While this would be an efficiency in most cases, the abortion industry wants to be able to charge the state for prescribing chemical abortions remotely. They have used a similar strategy to increase their revenues in other states because it allows fewer medical staff to prescribe more abortions. Encouraging abortion providers to prescribe abortions remotely is especially problematic in Washington State where there is no requirement that parents know about a minor’s abortion. As a result, encouraging remote chemical abortions would create a situation in which minors are getting an abortion without their parent’s awareness and without any medical professionals nearby. In light of the fact that chemical abortions have killed women and frequently cause severe abdominal pain and bleeding, this would be a dangerous situation for the girls involved.

Banning Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) Therapy: In 2014, an effort was made to make it professional misconduct for a licensed therapist to help a minor reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attraction. The bill passed the House in 2014 but failed to pass the Senate. Proponents of the legislation claim that ice baths and shock therapy have been used in this therapy. Proponents have provided no evidence that it has happened recently—if ever—and it is widely condemned. It is also worth noting that imposing therapeutic goals on a client for any reason anyway is already professional misconduct. The real purpose of this legislation is to create legal liability for counselors who communicate the fact that it is possible for some people to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction. Previous version of this bill would have regulated licensed therapists, even if they are pastors or employees of churches working inside the church, making it a threat to individual liberty, parental rights, as well as religious freedom and free speech.

There will undoubtedly be other issues to deal with as well and we will keep you informed of all the developments affecting marriage, life, religious freedom, and parental rights.

You are encouraged to contact your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 anytime you have a thoughts to share or questions to ask.

Save the number as “Olympia” so you can easily share your thoughts.

Remember, in the legislature, without your involvement good things can’t happen. It doesn’t matter who has the better idea, but who has the most people behind their idea.

If you want to influence the policy that is made, make sure good policy is also good politics.

Your contribution of $5 or more allows us to do what we do. Thank you for your support.

Webcam Abortion Bill Dies as Session Ends

The Washington State legislature adjourned late Thursday night.  The end of session also ended discussion on a controversial bill involving telemed or webcam abortions as well.

This bill (HB 1448), which would have facilitated payment for medical services done remotely, is generally seen as an advance in health care because it makes it easier for people who live in rural areas to access health care.  Many health services, particularly in mental health, do not require a physical examination of a patient.  The ability to consult with your doctor without the need to drive hundreds of miles would be an improvement.

Nevertheless, after passing unanimously through the State House of Representatives, Planned Parenthood testified in support of the bill in the Senate, alerting people to the fact that this bill may not be as innocent as it appears.

It turns out that Washington is not the first case to facilitate telemedicine.  In Iowa, the legislature passed a similar measure.  However, one of the unexpected results was that the abortion industry began taking advantage of the measure in ways that were harming women.

Drugs that cause chemical abortions were being prescribed by medical providers who were hundreds of miles away from their patients.  These drugs, which have caused death and frequently cause severe abdominal pain, were leaving women to deal with serious complications far from any medical care to help them deal with it.

In the end, the Iowa Department of Health examined the evidence and banned the use of telemedicine for abortion. For similar reasons, eleven state legislatures have passed legislation banning telemed abortions.

Planned Parenthood has sued the state of Iowa challenging the Board of Health decision.

The abortion industry generally is having an increasingly difficult time finding medical providers to perform their abortions.  Applying this technology to abortion would make it much more efficient to prescribe the drug and get the taxpayer reimbursement.  Fewer medical providers would need to be involved.

The problem with telemed abortions is particularly acute in a state like Washington that has no parental notification law.  It would have created a situation in which a 14 year-old girl could get a chemical abortion without her parent’s awareness hundreds of miles from the doctor who prescribed the drug.  Not only would her parents not know, but perhaps the only adult who does know would be unable to help with complications.

The Board of Health in Iowa Banned the use of telemed abortions because they heard from women who had driven hundreds of miles, while bleeding in their car, looking for help.

In the end, there was general agreement on the vast majority of this bill.  Typically, in situations like this, the bill would simply be amended to remove the small part of the bill on which there is disagreement so the rest can be advanced.

Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good, right?

But nothing involving the abortion industry is very typical.

Once the issue was raised, the abortion industry took the position that if telemedicine would not be available so they could prescribe chemical abortions to children from hundreds of miles away, it shouldn’t be available to those needing mental health services in remote parts of the state either.

It’s really unfortunate.

Still, whenever the abortion industry loses a chance to expand its business, it’s a good day.

And you made it happen.  And not just on this bill.

From the Abortion Insurance Mandate, to the ban on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts, to telemed abortion, the thousands of times you reached out to legislators made all the difference.

Your voice is being heard and it is changing the debate in Olympia. Keep doing it.  And go recruit some friends.  There’s obviously a long ways to go.

March 14, 2014 Legislative Update Conference Call

Hosts: Joseph Backholm & Danille Turissini

Topics: 2014 Legislative Session Wrap-up, FPIW in the interim

Bad Bills Die

The Senate Health Care committee failed to vote on two separate bills with significant implications for conscience rights, religious freedom, and parental rights in their last committee meeting before today’s deadline.  This signals the likely death for an Abortion Insurance Mandate (HB 2148) as well as a bill to ban Sexual Orientation Change Therapy (HB 2451)

This represents the third-year in a row the Abortion Insurance Mandate, the top priority of the abortion industry in Washington, has died in the Senate after passing the House. It would have required every insurance policy bought and sold in Washington State to cover abortion, which would require every insurance customer to effectively subsidize abortion through their insurance premiums.

While many states, including Washington, pay for abortion with taxpayer dollars, no state has taken the step of requiring every individual, business, or church that purchases health insurance to become de facto partners in the abortion business in violation of their conscience.  Neither will Washington-at least for now.

A fuller list of concerns about the Abortion Insurance Mandate can be found here and here.

This was the first time a ban on Sexual Orientation Change Therapy (SOCE) was introduce in the Washington legislature.  A bill to study the issue was introduced in Washington in 2013 but failed to pass.

Similar bills passed in New Jersey and California last year and have been introduced in Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

The ban on SOCE appears to be a new point of emphasis for the gay lobby.  It is likely that the bill will return again next year even if it does not pass this session.  A list of concerns with the bill can be found here and here.

A summary of the arguments made in support of and opposition to the bill in a Senate committee hearing can be found here.

In the legislature, no bill is ever completely dead until everyone goes home.  In fact, some bills become law without ever having a hearing in either the House or the Senate.  However, bills that fail to make it out of committee’s by the deadline are generally not heard from again during that session.

The fact that these bills did not become law can be attributed in large part to the number of people who reached out to their legislators on these issues.  Offices told us that they had received hundreds of calls on these issues and that communication from constituents made a significant difference.

Your willingness to take a few moments out of your life to write an email or make a quick phone call has made the world a slightly better place than it would have been otherwise.  So thank you.

You can and should continue to email your legislators about these or any other issue that concerns you by click here. Your conversations with lawmakers will become even more effective if they don’t only occur during a “crisis”.

You are encouraged to thank the members of the Senate Health Care committee for not advancing these bills that would significantly harm conscience rights.  It’s always nice to hear someone say “thank you”, especially when you’re a legislator.

Becker, Randi (R) Chair, (360) 786-7602

Dammeier, Bruce (R) Vice Chair, (360) 786-7648

Pederson, Jamie (D) Ranking Minority Member (360) 786-7628

Angel, Jan (R), (360) 786-7650

Bailey, Barbara (R), (360) 786-7618

Cleveland, Annette (D), (360) 786-7696

Keiser, Karen (D), (360) 786-7664

Parlette, Linda Evans (R), (360) 786-7622

Thank you for being part of the team.

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.