Opinion

No will of the people this time on abortion-insurance measure

Republicans such as Sen. Randi Becker like to chant “the will of the people” when it comes to pushing a two-thirds legislative vote to raise taxes. But in Becker’s Senate Health Care Committee, the will of the people over women’s reproductive health care counts for nothing.

Becker shamelessly refused to pass HB 1044 out of her committee, despite a letter signed by 25 senators, a majority, who pledged to vote in favor of the bill.

It’s not a complicated issue. The bill would have reaffirmed the intent of Initiative 120, passed by voters in 1991, which protected women’s rights to insurance coverage for abortions, regardless of any changes made to federal law.

Decades before passing that initiative, even before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe vs. Wade, Washingtonians had voted to legalize abortion.

Becker’s right-wing conservative view on social issues is not only out of touch with Washington, it runs contrary to nationwide attitudes.

In polls taken during last fall’s general election, nearly two-thirds of American voters said they supported Roe v. Wade. And election results added an exclamation point to that fact, as voters rejected opponents to women’s rights who made extreme statements.

The bill in question doesn’t create any new policy. But defeating the measure turns back the clock on a woman’s right to make private health care decisions in consultation with her doctor.

The 25 senators in favor of HB 1044 put it this way, “As we begin to fully implement the Affordable Care Act, we must ensure that Washington does not move backward on access to a full range of reproductive health care options ... Women need access to safe, affordable reproductive health care, and insurance coverage is necessary to ensure that economic barriers do not dictate critical health care decisions.”

Becker and other anti-abortion Republicans should have allowed an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. Then our elected representatives would have been truly accountable to the will of the people.

There is one last hope for the Reproductive Parity Act. Those 25 senators could use Senate procedures to force the bill onto the floor for a vote. They should do so.

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