The reproductive parity act, which would require insurers who cover maternity care to also cover abortions, is faltering in the senate rules committee, which decides which bills make it onto the senate floor. Today is the last day for legislation to pass the full senate; last week, the state house passed the bill, 52-46.

Senate majority leader Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane) reportedly does not believe supporters of the bill have the votes to pass it; reproductive rights advocates believe they do. We have a call out to Brown.

Opponents claim the bill violates the federal law that says no federal funds can be used to pay for abortions; proponents note that under the federal health care law, every state must provide a health care exchange that does not include abortion coverage, allowing religious employers to opt out of providing abortion care to their employees.

The sticking point now appears to be that several moderate Republicans have not committed to vote for the legislation, including Sen. Andy Hill (R-45), Sen. Joe Fain (R-47), and Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R-5). All three senators broke party lines and voted in favor of Ed Murray's (D-43) marriage equality bill last month. We have calls out to all three Republicans as well as Sen. Paull Shin (D-21), who reportedly has not made up his mind on the bill. Another moderate Republican, Steve Litzow (R-41), is reportedly a "yes" on the bill.

Christi Stapleton, the interim director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, says that if the bill doesn't make it out of the senate, reproductive rights advocates will attempt to put it to a statewide vote instead.

"We would hate to have to take it to the ballot, but that's one of our possible strategies" if the legislation fails today, Stapleton says. "If we don't get this done, within three to five years" abortion coverage could become virtually unavailable in Washington State.
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