Becker says no further action planned for the abortion-mandate bill

Today the Senate Health Care Committee heard testimony about House Bill 1044, which would require Washington health-insurance carriers that cover maternity services to also cover abortions. After the public hearing Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, spoke about whether the measure will advance beyond that committee, of which she serves as chairwoman.

“My commitment from the beginning of this legislative session was to give the abortion mandate bill a hearing so that all sides would have an opportunity to share their perspective on the bill. I have honored that commitment and I sincerely appreciate the respectful testimony we heard in committee today from people in support and opposed to the bill.

“Everyone knows that this is a difficult, emotional issue for many people,” Becker said. “There are those inside and outside the Legislature who view the bill as unnecessary and some who remain concerned that it would violate the federal conscience clause. In fact, I received a letter today from several members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who feel that if this bill were to pass, it would jeopardize federal health-care funds.

“If our state were to pass this bill, we would be the only one in the nation to require private insurance plans to pay for abortion. Before anyone takes that step, I feel it is only prudent to ensure that the bill is necessary and would not have unintended consequences.

“The fact is that at this point, House Bill 1044 is a solution in search of a problem,” Becker said. “Even advocates of the bill admit that there is no need for the bill today as every health insurer in the state of Washington provides for abortion coverage. As such, the decision of the committee is that the bill will not move forward from here this year.”