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Originally published Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:00 PM

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Editorial: Washington Senate should set date for abortion-bill debate

Broad public support exists for abortion rights in Washington. The state Senate should respect the will of voters and hold a hearing on the Reproductive Parity Act.

Seattle Times Editorial


SHOULD a woman ever face the decision to terminate a pregnancy, she has a right to privacy and to receive the same insurance coverage for the procedure that she would get for maternal care.

This is the current standard offered by insurance policies statewide.

House Bill 1044, known as the Reproductive Parity Act, is an effort to protect that coverage as much as possible after federal health reforms take effect.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed and sent the measure to the Senate, where it is co-sponsored by state Sens. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, and Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.

After weeks of withholding a hearing, Senate Health Care Committee Chairwoman Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, reportedly plans to let the public weigh in before April 3, the cutoff date to consider House legislation.

Republicans have a one-seat advantage on the panel.

Even if the bill makes it to the floor, Litzow warns it might not have the 25 votes needed to pass.

Polls show female voters overwhelmingly support reproductive rights, but they also helped elect a narrow majority of Senate members who oppose abortion rights.

Since 2012, Planned Parenthood estimates citizens have sent more than 56,000 emails, letters and calls to lawmakers in support of the bill.

State senators should listen to this chorus. Act soon.

HB 1044 reflects the will of voters who passed statewide initiatives in 1970 and 1991 protecting abortion access.

The Reproductive Parity Act deserves a full public debate in both chambers.