This Washington

Reproductive Rights Bill Looks Dead For Now

By Erica C. Barnett March 2, 2012

The state senate---currently mired in a Byzantine debate over the budget, with Republicans trying to hijack a budget proposal that Democrats have been hashing out for months---twice rejected proposals to vote on the reproductive parity act, which would require insurers who pay for maternity care to also cover abortions.

An effort to attach the bill to four Republican-backed budget bills proposed by Sen. Don Benton (R-17) failed 26-23, with several Democrats (including conservative Democrat Mary Margaret Haugen, D-10) breaking ranks and several moderate Republicans who might have voted for the bill (including, somewhat surprisingly, pro-choice Republican Steve Litzow, R-41), voting against it. Another vote, to put the act on the senate floor on its own, failed by the same margin.

Litzow, elected in 2010, served on the board of NARAL's PAC. The bill could still be resurrected later in the session (if it's deemed not "necessary to implement the budget," since today's cutoff is only for budget bills) or in a special session, if today's budget clusterfuck forces one.

Before the vote, senate majority leader Lisa Brown (D-3) gave an emotional floor speech in favor of the legislation.

"There's a national movement against women's reproductive freedom and health in this country, and with this bill we can demonstrate that Washington State, as it has voted repeatedly, as a state is firmly on the side of women's health and freedom and choice," Brown said. "It's one of the most significant issues facing us in the country today. ... I urge members to stand on the side of women's health and the personal freedom of a person to make the decision to control her own body."
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