Senate Committee Considers Ban on SOCE

Yesterday the Senate Health Care Committee held a public hearing on a bill that would make it professional misconduct for a licensed therapist to perform Sexual Orientation Change Effort (SOCE) therapy to help a minor reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction.

No vote was taken.

The hearing on this bill took up 50 minutes of the 2 hour committee hearing, which considered 6 other bills as well.

Before any public comment was made, Sen. Bruce Dammeier pointed out that there were no other examples of the legislature determining the standard of care for a profession. He noted that bloodletting, which is not the standard of care for medical doctors, is not prohibited in state law but by professional standards.

A representative of the Department of Health (DOH), which currently has jurisdiction over professional licensing and fields approximately 10,000 complaints a year involving professionals of all kinds, said that current DOH staff has 11 years of institutional knowledge and no one was aware of a single complaint alleging that a licensed therapist had attempted to coerce someone into not being gay.

During the hearing, others pointed out that complaints are not always filed when misconduct takes place, particularly when children are involved.

The testimony in support of the bill began with David Ward, an attorney from Legal Voice, ensuring the committee that the bill was legal.  He pointed out that while bans from other states are subject to litigation, the laws have not yet been struck down.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban in California, taking the position that therapy is not speech and therefore not protected by the First Amendment. It has been appealed to the Supreme Court.

Lucy Homans, on behalf of the Washington State Psychological Association, testified that change efforts could never be referred to as therapeutic and that it assumes there is a disorder.  She argued that the therapy results in trauma and the psychological after effects are “myriad and severe.”

Dr. Matthew Goldenberg, a licensed therapist who has a practice involving many gay and lesbian youth, said that therapy of this kind for one patient had caused alcoholism which resulted in jaundice, liver failure, heart disease, and tremors that prevented the patient from working.

Others told emotional stories of being rejected by their parents and community as minors when they announced that they were gay and the pain they experienced from others, including therapists, who made them feel as being gay was not acceptable and changeable.

Unlike a similar hearing in the House of Representatives, this hearing lacked specific stories about children being subjected to ice baths or shock treatment against their will.

Testimony in opposition to the bill included an ex-lesbian who said she always believed that change was impossible, despite wanting to change, because that’s what seven different therapists over two decades told her.   She testified that her experience of change, and the experience of many others like her, makes it clear that, at least for some people, change is possible. She said that some people want to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction and asked the committee why people who might want to change should be denied the kind of help they desire.

Dr. Terry Trudel, a psychiatrist with 35 years of clinical experience, denied the allegation that SOCE assumes a disorder. He testified that the only thing sexual orientation change therapy assumes is that the person wants to change. He said people with same-sex attraction want to have choice about how they express themselves sexually and want to have people honor that choice.  People who want to have sexual orientation change therapy want to have choices about how they will accomplish that.

David Pickup, a licensed therapist who owns two private practices that focuses on SOCE told his own experience of having unwanted same-sex attraction and getting therapy that helped reduce anxiety and depression and improve his self-esteem.  He said the therapy he received and now provides in no way shames a client but focuses on creating a desired emotional change that that can ultimately lead to a behavioral change.

Pickup noted that the American Psychological Associations 2009 Task Force Report used by opponents of the bill to condemn SOCE says on page 42 and pages 82-83 that there is no proof that SOCE causes harm. He said that if the stories being told by others were true, that they should have their licenses revoked and in some cases be prosecuted, but that is not what SOCE therapists like him do.

Dr. Joe Fuiten, from Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, testified that his church employs licensed therapists in their church counseling center, some of whom are pastors.  He questioned whether the separation of church and state should allow the state legislature to tell pastors of his church, who happen to be licensed therapists, what they cannot share a perspective consistent with thousands of years of church teaching.

You can watch the entire testimony below.

 

The committee now has until February 28th to take action on this bill.  If they pass the bill out of the committee, it would then move to the full Senate for consideration. If a majority of the committee votes against the bill, or if the bill is never brought up for a vote, then the bill is likely dead.

Though in the legislature nothing is permanent until everyone goes home.

FPIW’s list of concerns about this bill can be found here, and here.

You are encouraged to contact your legislators about this issue through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or you can email them by clicking here.

You can contact the members of the Senate Health Care Committee directly through the information below.

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

Why Make Sense When You Care So Much?

Today there is a hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee on H.B. 2451 which would ban sexual orientation change therapy for minors.  The bill makes it professional misconduct for a licensed professional help a minor reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction.  Even if the client requests the therapy.  Even if the therapy is being done by a pastor inside a church.

The truth is, even the people supporting this bill wouldn’t support it if it were about anything other than homosexuality.

It violates so many of their first principles.

They used to say with such conviction that the government shouldn’t get between a girl and her doctor.  But in this case they feel compelled to protect the girl from some doctor. After all, what if the doctor gives the girl advice we don’t like.  Someone must be there to protect her.

They used scream from the rooftops about the need for a clear wall of separation between church and state.  It protects the state from the church and the church from the state, right?  Turns out that wall of separation may be evolving into more of a gate that locks on one side.  Of course they have the key.

I’m sure Thomas Jefferson said something about a gate once too.  And when he did, he almost certainly was thinking about the need for future benevolent governments to protect children from their parents, their therapists, and the church.  The wall of separation was only going to work for so long.  So much good to do and so little time.

Remember when they were telling florists that it’s illegal to deny gay customers services they wouldn’t be requesting if they weren’t gay; things like floral services for a same-sex wedding.  I think they called it discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  What? They’re still saying that?

Turns out they aren’t always opposed to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  In fact, it appears that they like it quite a lot so long as it will prevent gay kids from getting services that they don’t think gay kids should want.

Just less than a year ago, the city of New York made it illegal to sell soda and other sweetened drinks in quantities larger than 16 oz.  They banned it because it’s bad for you.

You’ll recall that the public was outraged.  Mayor Bloomberg was accused of meddling in issues that shouldn’t be his concern because he was meddling in issues that shouldn’t be his concern.  Since then a New York appeals court ruled that the ban was unconstitutional now the high court in New York will rule.

But is it really that much different to ban certain kinds of therapy that some people want because you’re convinced that it’s bad for them?  Or maybe they’ll revise the proposal to stop parents from buying soda for their kids. That should go well.

Of course this bill is motivated by good intentions.  If you accept their premise that reducing or eliminating same-sex attraction is impossible, it makes some sense.  Don’t punish the left-handed kids for being left-handed, right?

But that analogy falls apart in light of all the people walking around whose lives have changed in this way.

This bill is fundamentally about the right of self-determination.  Should an individual be able to determine for themselves the kind of person they want to be. Should an individual be able to decide that they want to make choices consistent with a certain value system, regardless of how they feel at the moment?  Should they be able to seek professional help in doing so?

Can I get an Amen from all the wives whose husbands are dealing with sex addictions?

We all know the answer to that question if we’re talking about any other subject.  But in this case, I guess it’s different.

Why make sense when you care so much?

To share your thoughts on this bill you can contact your legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

House Passes Ban on Life Change Therapy 94-4

Yesterday the Washington State House of Representatives delivered a blow to religious freedom when it passed HB 2451 which bans therapy for minors to help them reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction.   The bill, which passed 94-4, now moves to the Senate for consideration.

This bill, modeled after similar bills in New Jersey and California, makes it professional misconduct for a licensed therapist to provide sexual orientation change therapy to minors even when the client requests it.  Therefore, it makes it illegal for a licensed counselor to counsel in a way that is consistent with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or LDS understanding of sexuality…even in a church, mosque, or synagogue.

As a result, a minor with unwanted same-sex attraction will be prohibited by law from getting professional help.

It was expected that the bill would pass the Democrat controlled House of Representatives, but the final vote was surprising because of the amount of support it received.  Thought to be highly controversial, the bill received nearly unanimous support even from House Republicans who, though often powerless to stop bad policy in the House, typically oppose attempts by the left to censor speech, restrict religious freedom, and interfere with family decisions.

However, this bill presented unique political challenges.

Proponents of the bill told stories about children being subjected to shock therapy and ice baths against their will.  While that kind of aversive therapy is broadly condemned, there is little to no evidence that such therapy is done commonly if at all. The Washington State Department of Health said they have received no complaints about therapists performing coercive sexual orientation change therapy of any kind–much less ice baths and shock therapy–against the will of a client.

Nevertheless, rather than simply ban shock treatments and ice baths, this bill makes it illegal for licensed therapists to perform talk therapy as well, even if the client requests it.

The broad support for the bill could be attributable to the potential political liability of opposing it. One can easily imagine messages like, “Representative X voted against a bill that would protect children from being thrown into ice baths! Representative X supports child abuse!?!?

Deceptive, negative campaign messages aren’t exactly new inventions in political campaigns.

This bill raises a dilemma every politician faces: “What kind of compromises am I willing to make if not compromising could mean I lose my ability to do any good at all?”

For the voter, this vote raises a different question: “If I can’t count on you to vote against bills that violate core principles of religious freedom, what can I count on you for?”

No one has bad intentions.  But the view can look very different depending on where your seat is.

The bill was amended and improved to a degree, but even after the amendments, the bill’s primary purpose–to prohibit counselors from being able to communicate a particular perspective on same-sex attraction–remained intact.

While the vote allowed the bill to pass the House of Representatives, the strong support for the bill in the House increased its chances of success in the Senate.

The Washington State Senate is comprised of a bi-partisan Majority Coalition Caucus of 23 Republicans and 2 Democrats that has formed around budgetary issues. The coalition does not necessarily agree on social policy. Therefore, in order to remain united they have agreed not to take up controversial social issues.

However, when a bill comes out of the House with the appearance of broad support, it could embolden more leftist members of the Majority Coalition to join with leftist Democrats to pass the bill.  After all, if it passed the House 94-4, how controversial can it really be?

It could pass with a strong majority of the Senate as well for fear of campaign mailers accusing Senators of supporting child abuse.

Welcome to the sausage factory.

That being said, the debate over this bill is far from over.  It was always expected that the bill would pass the House so the debate will really heat up in the Senate.

Your involvement now is more important than ever!

A hearing has been scheduled for 10 am on Thursday, February 20th in the John A. Cherberg Building. Be there!

Child abuse is not ok.  If that is happening, everyone wants to stop it.  Coercion by licensed counselors is already professional misconduct.  If that is happening, there is already a way to address it.  File a complaint with the licensing authority.

This bill denies patients the rights to seek the kind of counseling they want simply because the legislature doesn’t think they should want it.  Why is that fair?

You can call your legislators about HB 2451 or any other issue through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

Your involvement is critical.  By attending hearings, contacting your legislators, and encouraging your friends to do the same, we all can help make sure that good policy also makes for good politics.

Banning SOCE: Why You Should Care

In the next two days, the Washington State House of Representatives is likely to vote on HB 2451, a bill to ban sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) involving minors.  It would make it professional misconduct for a licensed therapist to provide counseling for the purposes of reducing or eliminating same-sex attraction.

Proponents of the bill say it is necessary to prevent therapists from forcing children to watch pornography while in an ice bath. But it goes far beyond that to make it illegal for a licensed counselor to even talk about changing sexual orientation except to say change is neither possible nor desirable. Never mind the fact that many people have.

You might be inclined to dismiss this issue completely because you are not a therapist and you have no experience with same-sex attraction.

But this bill is more than simply overregulation of the counseling profession, it is another example of lawmakers convincing themselves that they possess all relevant information in the universe about a subject so there is no longer room for disagreement. Ironically, in this case, they would be claiming to possess this knowledge about something they couldn’t possibly know anything about-the sexual development of an individual child.

This is something every liberty loving American should be concerned about.

Here are a few reasons to be concerned about the policy this bill creates:

  1. Licensed therapists are not currently involved in coercive therapy to change sexual orientation: The Washington State Department of Health has no records of complaints filed against a licensed therapist for coercive therapy intended to change their sexual orientation.  If anyone is receiving counseling to change their sexual orientation from a therapist, it is probably because they asked for it. Why would that bother you?
  2. Bans “aversive therapy” as well as talk therapy:Proponents of this bill claim it is necessary to prevent children from receiving shock therapy or forced to take ice baths as a form of therapy.  However, it goes far beyond those issues upon which there is general agreement to make it illegal for a licensed therapist to provide talk therapy to a client regarding unwanted same-sex attraction.
  3. Coercion is already professional misconduct: This bill is unnecessary because it is already professional misconduct for a therapist to dictate therapeutic goals to the client.  Current professional guidelines provide a recourse if a licensed therapist tries to force a client to change their sexual orientation.
  4. Denies counseling options to those with unwanted same-sex attraction:  Since coercion is already professional misconduct, the only real impact of this bill is to make it impossible for clients to get therapy to help with unwanted same-sex attraction.  Telling a client there is no help for something they want help with can be just as damaging as forcing someone to get help for something they don’t want help with.
  5. Places legislature in the middle of counseling sessions: Parents, counselors, and clients are in a much better position than the legislature to know what a child needs.
  6. Creates inconsistent policy: If this bill were to pass, it would be ok for a minor to seek professional help to change their gender but not to change sexual attraction.

No one thinks children should be forced to take ice baths and watch pornography.  If that is the concern, there are ways to deal with that that don’t include banning speech legislators personally disagree with.

Homosexuality specifically, and human sexuality generally, will always be controversial subjects. Human understanding of these topics has changed over the generations and is likely to change in the future.

Taking away the freedom of other people to express contrary perspectives about a highly politicized topic because we’ve decided we know all there is to know is neither enlightened nor progressive.

When you oppose legislation like this, you aren’t simply defending consumer choices for clients and conscience rights for therapists, you’re defending liberty generally.

To share your thoughts with the legislature about this bill, you can contact them through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

 

Your gift of $5 or more allows us to advocate for religious freedom and conscience rights in Washington State.

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.

The Fear of Change

On issues related to marriage and sexuality, the strategy from the left is now a well-established; punish behavior we dislike regardless of whether anyone is actually harmed.  Whether you’re a student, doctor, property owner, florist, bakery, or photographer, you are not free to make decisions in your professional life we dislike.

It’s all very familiar by now.

The left apparently feels the need to protect gay people from anyone who might not agree that homosexuality and heterosexuality are the same.  I suspect more than a few gay people are insulted by the presumption of frailty projected upon them.

Nevertheless, the campaign to punish everything they dislike has moved into a new front here in Washington State.  Yesterday, the House Health Care and Wellness committee held a hearing on HB 2451 which would ban sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) involving minors. (View Hearing)

The bill would make it professional misconduct for a licensed therapist to help a minor reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attraction.

The committee testimony included lots of hearsay and one personal account of people who were made to feel rejected and unloved as they struggled with their sexuality as adolescents.  The pain was undoubtedly real.

However, the inference that all their childhood pain could be directly traced to the fact that some people in their circles did not embrace their homosexuality is likely incomplete.

The most sensational story included allegations that an Olympia area therapist forced a child to watch pornography while in an ice bath so that they would associate sexual arousal with pain.

The woman providing the testimony could not provide any details about who the therapist was, when it happened, or where the person that this had happened to was.  In addition, when questioned after the hearing, she was unwilling to do any research to help uncover whether, if it had in fact happened, it was a licensed therapist.

Obviously, no one would support forcing a child to watch pornography in an ice bath for any reason, but no new laws are needed to address that problem.  Child abuse is child abuse whether a therapist is involved or not.

Nevertheless, coercion by therapists has been professional misconduct for generations.

Regardless of the nature of the counseling, professional guidelines require the goals of therapy to be determined by the client, not the therapist.

Therefore, under current professional practice, the only time it would be appropriate to help a client control or reduce same-sex attraction would be when the client requests it.

As a result, the only real change from this bill would be to make it impossible for clients who have unwanted same-sex attraction to be able to get help from licensed counselors.

Apparently the, “If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one” standard doesn’t apply to therapy.

The truth is, however, those pushing bans of this sort actually believe they are harmed when someone else is able to get this kind of therapy.

For the militant, political wing of the gay community (and it is important to distinguish them from the rest of the gay community which is often far more reasonable) the only thing more troubling than the prospect of someone wanting to change their sexual orientation is the idea that change is possible.

They attempt to preempt the philosophical or moral question of whether someone should change their sexuality by taking the factual position that change is impossible.

Undoubtedly, for many, their personal experience leads them to that conclusion.

I don’t think any of us can claim to know more about another’s experience than they do.  When someone says they didn’t choose to be gay, I don’t feel a particular burden to challenge them on that point.

However, those asking others to accept their reality that they did not choose to be gay are often unwilling to extend the same courtesy to former homosexuals whose experience is different but no less real.

The existence of ex-gays is an inconvenient truth that assaults the foundation upon which the “gay rights” movement is built-the immutability of homosexuality.

If it is true that some people who used to be gay no longer are, it raises issues they prefer not think about.

So, instead, they close their eyes tightly, put their fingers in their ears, tell themselves those people didn’t really experience what they said they experienced, and hope they’ll go back in the closet where they came from.

Sweet, blessed irony.

Not only is change not possible, they argue, it should be professional malpractice to suggest that it is.  I don’t care how many say they have changed and I don’t care how many clients may actually request this kind of therapy from their therapist.   My motives are good, I’m trying to save young people from pain.  Please don’t confuse me with facts.

With proposals like this one, the campaign to take away people’s individual freedoms in the name of sexual equality is making a shift.  In the case of the photographers, florists, bakers, doctors, and innkeepers, the state is punishing businesses who are doing things they believe are “discriminatory” against a customer.  Therefore, they force them to do things they otherwise would not do.

However, in this case, the state would prohibit professionals from doing things they are otherwise willing to do and restrict the therapeutic services available to individuals simply because they are offended by the idea that someone would ever want it.

Honestly, I kind of get it. My desire to ban skinny jeans has similar motivations.  However, being the good liberal that I am, I’ve decided I’ll be satisfied with simply not buying any. Here’s to hoping the legislature will be equally as accommodating.

The Problem with House Bill 2451

This post was written by Rebecca Faust

House Bill 2451, banning sexual orientation change efforts for minors, is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Health Care & Wellness Committee this Wednesday.

Sexual orientation change efforts refers to therapies provided to help people get rid of or reduce unwanted same-sex attractions or to identify and behave in accordance with their birth gender. As used in the law, the term applies to therapies regardless of whether they target feelings or behavior, but doesn’t include therapy to avoid illegal behavior or promote self-acceptance as long as the therapies don’t hold one sexual orientation as being better than another. The bill would make it “unprofessional conduct,” subject to disciplinary action, for mental health therapists, as well as a number of other professionals, to provide such therapies.

This bill is concerning for the following reasons.

First, it makes it more difficult for teens struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions to get help. Presumably, pastors will still be a source of guidance for these vulnerable youths. But it would be better if they could also have the resources of trained therapists (in addition to spiritual leaders). Please tell legislators to let mental healthcare providers offer a full range of therapies to youth.

Second, it takes away from parents the decision of what therapy options are best for their children. Perhaps some of you may think that therapy to eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions is not the best option for a child. But unless you are the child’s parents, you shouldn’t make that decision. Please tell legislators to uphold the right of parents to make these decisions for their children.

Third, it discriminates again a conservative – or Christian – viewpoint on sexuality. The law would allow therapies to encourage youth to accept their same-sex attractions or identification with a gender other than their birth sex, as long as the therapist doesn’t hold one sexual orientation out to be better than another. But it would ban therapies which help confused youth come to a Biblical understanding of gender and conform their feelings or behavior to it.  Please tell legislators to respect the right of those with a conservative view of sexuality to express it and receive therapy consistent with it.

Please let your legislators know how you feel about this bill. You can send a message to them by email, or by calling the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000. You may also wish to attend the public hearing on Wednesday, January 22, at 8:00 a.m. It will be at the state capital in Olympia, in the O’Brien Building, Hearing Room B. If you attend the hearing, please arrive early and don’t forget to sign in.

 

Bill Banning Sexual Orientation Therapy Scheduled For Hearing

This post was written by Rebecca Faust.

State Representative Marko Liias introduced a bill today banning therapy for minors to help them change their sexual orientation or associated behavior.

House Bill 2451would make it unprofessional conduct, subject to disciplinary sanctions, for a mental health therapist to provide therapy to change sexual orientation or gender expression to anyone under eighteen years old, regardless of whether the patient or the patient’s parents desire or agree to the therapy.

In fact, the prohibition would not only apply to mental health therapists, but to a number of other professions as well, including sex offender treatment providers, hypnotherapists, East Asian medicine practitioners, and others.

It would be legal to provide acceptance, support, “identity exploration and development,” and “sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices” as long as these interventions “do not seek to change sexual orientation.”

The bill has already been scheduled for a public hearing in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee on Wednesday, January 22nd, at 8:00 a.m.

You can  call the legislative hotline at 1-800-563-6000 to send a message to your representatives, letting them know how you feel about this bill. If you live within driving distance of Olympia, you may wish to attend the public hearing as well. If you do so, be sure to sign in so that your position on the bill will be noted.

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.