Posts tagged: abortion
OLYMPIA – The Legislature has a variety of deadlines designed to winnow down the thousands of bills introduced in any given session to a few hundred that actually require everyone to cast a vote.
These deadlines, known as cutoffs, generally require a bill to prove it has enough support to move to the next step: get out of a committee, win a vote in the chamber where it was introduced, get out of a committee in the other chamber, and so on.
They can also provide a bit of drama, because by missing the cutoff, a bill is often described as dead – not quite accurate because they do sometimes get called forth from the grave like Lazarus, although that’s more an exercise in parliamentary legerdemain than divine intervention.
As one of the final cutoffs neared last Wednesday, much of the drama revolved around the Reproductive Parity Act. . .
OLYMPIA — Senate Democrats tried a new way to bring the Reproductive Parity Act to the floor through a parliamentary procedure.
After failing Tuesday in an attempt with one manuever — known as the 9th Order — on a 23-25 vote, they moved this morning to bring up a broad insurance bill this afternoon at 4:59 p.m., essentially making it the last bill before the clock ran out for one of the Legislature's key deadlines to pass bills. They would then amend the parity act onto the broader bill.
The motion from Sen. Karen Keiser brought loud objections from the Majority Coalition, with Republican Leader Mark Schoesler of Ritzville shouting “Point of order” so many times that Lt. Gov. Brad Owen finally said “I heard you the first time.”
Keiser said the Majority Coalition said Tuesday they objected to the method of bringing up the RPA, which would require abortion to be offered by most insurance companies that cover maternity services. This was a different method, based on the fact that the insurance bill has a title so broad the parity act would fit under its umbrella.
Schoesler said Keiser was making a reference to other members and impugning them, which isn't allowed under Senate rules. Owen said he didn't hear any impugning of motives
The goal of the maneuvering is to create a situation in which two members of the Majority Coalition, Rodney Tom and Steve Litzhow, who support abortion rights will break with the caucus that opposes abortion.
“We were told there's always a way to bring a bill to the floor. We have found a way,” Keiser said.
This wasn't it. The motion failed 23-25, with Tom and Litzhow voting against placing the omnibus insurance bill on the calendar as the last legislation to be debated before the deadline passes.
But the maneuver does signal a possible path for Democrats to get the RPA through the Senate. If the omnibus insurance bill comes up anytime before 5 p.m., they can move to add the parity act with an amendment, forcing an up or down vote on the substance of the bill that isn't tied to a fight over procedure.
OLYMPIA — Supporters of the controversial Reproductive Parity Act say they have enough votes to pass it in the Senate, but they may not get the chance.
The chairwoman of the committee that held a two-hour hearing on the bill said Monady afternoon she will not schedule a vote on it, meaning the bill will die without further parliamentary maneuvering.
Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville and the chairwoman of the Senate Health Care Committee, said some four hours after the hearing she will not schedule a vote on the bill. Becker, who refused to hear a Senate version of the bill earlier in the year, said she fulfilled a pledge to hold a hearing on the House version after the bill passed the other chamber.
Some people consider the bill unnecessary because all health insurance companies offer abortion coverage, Becker said. Others, including U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, say it could jeopardize federal health care funds by violating a law that protects some groups from being forced to buy insurance that violates their religious principles.
The bill mentions exemptions for what's known as the conscience clause in three different places, but opponents said it contradicts those exemptions with other language that says an employee cannot be denied abortion coverage.
“The fact is that at this point, House Bill 1044 is a solution in search of a problem,” Becker said in a prepared statement to announce she wouldn't schedule a committee vote on the bill. Wednesday is a deadline for the bill to get voted out of the committee to continue moving through the regular process.
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens and a sponsor of the bill, told the committee Monday he had 25 signatures on a letter saying they would vote for it if it came to the Senate floor. That would be enough to pass it and send it to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has said he would sign it.
To do that, however, they'd have to hold together and try bringing the bill to the floor through a parliamentary procedure. Among the 25 signers to the letter is Sen. Rodney Tom, of Medina, the Democrat who leads the mostly Republican majority coalition that controls the chamber and opposes the bill.
OLYMPIA — As abortion-rights groups and their legislative allies try to force a vote on a bill that would expand requirements for insurance companies to cover the procedure, a Washington congresswoman is warning President Obama the proposal violates federal laws.
The Senate Health Care Committee held a two-hour hearing Monday morning on the House version of the Reproductive Parity Act, with regular supporters and foes of abortion lining up on the expected side of the bill that would require most insurance plans that offer maternity benefits to cover abortion, too.
There were dueling religious leaders. Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain argued the bill, if passed, would make insurance coverage of abortion mandatory in Washington, even for employers with religious objections to abortion. Rabbi Seth Goldstein of Olympia said the bill should be passed to provide “freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
There were dueling leaders from women's groups. Elaine Rose of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest acknowledged that nearly every insurance plan offered in Washington covers insurance, and the bill was designed to “keep it that way” as federal health care reform proceeds. Angela Connolly of tlhe Washington Women's Network called the bill “anti-woman” because it forces them to accept a health care plan that forces them to “participate in what they see as violence against women.”
Health Care Committee Chairwoman Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, sometimes had to remind speakers to stick to the bill rather than veering into some of the bigger controversies over abortion, such as when one abortion foe started discussing policies of Nazi Germany.
In the hearing room, Sen. Mike Padden released a copy of a letter, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers sent Monday to Obama saying the bill has “far-reaching and alarming conseqluences for the citizens of Washington state who embrace life.”
McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Eastern Washington's 5th District, said the bill does not satisfy federal restrictions on “conscience rights”, or the protection to allow people who have religions objections to abortion to opt out of insurance plans. That could jeoparize federal funds for welfare, jobs and education, she said, adding she “looks forward to working with you as both Congress and Administration fullfill our constitutional rols to uphold and enforce…conscience protections.”
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, who sponsored a Senate version of the proposal that did not get a hearing in the committee, also had a letter, one signed by 25 senators enough promising to vote for the bill it if it comes to the floor. That would be enough to pass it and send it to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has promised to sign it.
But the easy way to a floor vote comes if the bill passes out of the Health Care Committee by Wednesday, a deadline for bills from one chamber to pass the panel holding the hearing in the other chamber. Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, wanted the committee to vote on the bill after Monday morning's hearing. But as testimony finished, with Keiser saying “Madam chairwoman, madam chairwoman,” Becker gavelled the panel to adjournament without a vote.
The committee has a meeting on Tuesday morning, however, to consider votes on any of the House bills it has heard over the last month.
OLYMPIA — The Reproductive Parity Act, which would require any insurance plan that overs maternity benefits to also cover abortion, gets a hearing this morning in the Senate Health Care Committee.
The bill is controversial, as has been its scheduling.
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, who supports the bill, originally a Senate version of the bill would get a hearing in the Senate Law and Justice Committee in January. That panel held a two-hour hearing on a bill on the other side of the abortion debate, which required adult notification when a minor was seeking an abortion.
But Law and Justice Chairman Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, cancelled the parity bill hearing, and both he and Health Care Committee Chairwoman Randy Becker, R-Eatonville, refused to schedule one. Tom said chairmen have full discretion at what they hear, and he wouldn't override them, even though Senate Democrats introduced a third version of the bill in an attempt to get it sent to a friendlier panel.
When the House passed its version, Becker said she would hear that bill in Health Care. It's the only bill on that committee's 10 a.m. meeting.
OLYMPIA — On a mostly party-line vote, the House passed the Reproductive Parity Act, sending it to the Senate on a 53-43 vote.
Both sides argued that they were defending “choice.” Supporters said women should have medical insurance that allows them to choose abortion, regardless of their employer's religious believes.
Opponents said women who oppose abortion should be able to choose a medical plan that does not pay for abortions.
OLYMPIA The Reproductive Parity Act is a “simple, technical fix”, its sponsor said in introducing the debate. It doesn't change anything right now, but it would protect the right to choose abortion if that becomes a problem under the federal Health Care Act changes.
Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, the chairwoman of the House Health Care Committee, downplayed the significance of the bill, while Republicans blasted it as “anti-choice.
Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said it takes away her right to choose a medical plan without abortion coverage: “Under Obamacare, there is a requirement that one plan be offered that not cover abortion. Medicaid right now covers abortion…Voluntarily, insurance companies provide that coverage. Organizations provide that cover… “We have very few options in my district…That (Obamacare) plan would not be available.”
Washington doesn't force doctors to perform abortion or prescribe lethal drugs if it goes against their conscience, and shouldn't force businesses to cut maternity care because they oppose abortion, other Republicans said. Choosing an abortion may be a constitutional right, but other people shouldn't be forced to pay for exercising that right any more than they should be required to buy someone a gun to exercise Second Amendment rights.
Women want to be able to make their own decision about their lives and their bodies…They do not want some bureaucrat in an insurance company telling them how to make their decisions, Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Dungeness, said. We are empowering women to follow their conscience.”
If women have the intelligence and capablity to determine whether to abort a pregnancy…why would we choose to take away my choice not to,” Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, said.
OLYMPIA — Debate over the Reproductive Parity bill starts after a pair of caucus meetings. First up, a call for a Republican amendment with a “conscience clause” to be inserted into the bill.
That allows an organization to keep from offering abortion as part of its medical coverage if it has a religious objection to it. It passes unanimously.
Democrats then offered an even broader amendment with a more encompassing conscience clause. It passes 52-44.
“We are not changing anything in the conscience clause,” Rep Eileen Cody says.
Some opponents of the bill are sporting white, looped ribbons on their lapels or jackets. Supporters have lapel buttons that say “Privacy, Justice, Freedom.”
OLYMPIA — The House is expected to debate the Reproductive Parity Act this morning, likely passing a bill over to the Senate that Republicans in that chamber have worked very hard to ignore.
The RPA, as some folks call it, would require any insurance plan that offers maternity care to also cover abortion. Supporters say it's an issue of fairness for women's health options; opponents say it forces people who oppose abortion to pay for others who have one through their health plan.
Both sides are sporting lapel decorations to signal their support, and it could be the most contentious House debate of the session thus far. The galleries are filling up in anticipation; and since everyone drove through pretty nasty weather to get here, one can only hope they aren't disappointed.
Three identical bills were introduced in the Senate, but none got a hearing as the leaders of the Law and Justice and Health Care committees both refused to hear the bills. That put Coalition Health Care Chairwoman Randi Becker has said, however, if the House passes its version, she will hold a hearing.
Elsewhere, there will be a scramble to get”policy” bills out of their first committee today, which is a cut-off day. Translation: Those that don't get out may as well get Last Rites, because they are all but dead.
For a list of today's hearings, go inside the blog.
OLYMPIA — A hearing on a proposal to require insurance companies to cover abortion services if they cover live births was cancelled this morning, a few days after the committee chairman said he would hear the bill even though he didn't support it.
The Reproductive Parity bill was among several proposals on the schedule for the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which earlier this week held a two-hour hearing on a bill on the other side of the abortion issue which would require parental notification for any minor seeking an abortion.
Committee Chairman Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, announced on Monday he was scheduling the Friday morning hearing, adding that didn't mean he supported it. Padden is a longtime opponent of abortion and a co-sponsor of the parental notification bill. At the time he said the Reproductive Parity bill had problems that would become clear in the hearing.
The committee did meet, discussing bills on boating safety, adding judges in the Tri-Cities and defining subpoena power for the state auditor.
Abortion bills have the potential for splitting the coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats who form the majority in the Senate. Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, who supports abortion rights, said earlier this week that he didn't support the parental notification bill, but the hearing was the first on the oft-proposed measure in 10 years. Holding a hearing on that measure showed the coaltion was willing to debate issues that had been “bottled up” by the previous Democratic majority, he said.
At the time, Tom also noted that the Reproductive Parity bill had been scheduled for today's hearing, and said the hearings would “get us away from demonization” of the two sides on the issue.
“Let's have that debate,” he said.
Padden said this morning he decided to cancel the Reproductive Parity bill because he believes it would jeopardize federal funding and invite lawsuits if it became law. An identical bill has been referred to the Health Care Committee
“I never was a fan of the bill to begin with and I worked hard to defeat it last year,” Padden said of a similar measure that died when time ran out for a deadline to pass bills.
After the bill was abruptly pulled from the Law and Justice hearing calendar, Tom reportedly told the Associated Press it was not determined when or where the bill might be heard. An identical bill is before the Senate Health Committee, but is not expected to get a hearing there, either. A similar bill has been heard in the House and is expected to pass that chamber.
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the sponsor of the Reproductive Parity bill that was pulled from Friday's hearing schedule, said he was frustrated by Padden's refusal to hear the bill.
But Hobbs said Tom has “given me his word that we're going to hear it. I'm going to give him the opportunity to get it right.”
One Democratic source said an option could be for Senate leaders to reassign the bill to the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, because it involves a regulation for insurance companies.
The chairman of that committee is Hobbs.
OLYMPIA — Some hot button issues for legislative committees today, with a hearing on a bill that involves abortion in the morning.
The House Health Care Committee had a full room for a hearing on the Reproductive Parity Act, which would require insurance plans in Washington that offer coverage for live births to also offer coverage for abortions. Such big crowds were espected that tents are set up on the Capitol Campus as gathering spots.
The Senate Transportation Committee will likely have a crowd this afternoon for a proposal to let anyone over 18 ride a motorcycle without a helmet. It's one of the big priorities of groups like ABATE, which stands for A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments, and will likely result in more witnesses wearing leather or biker colors than suits and ties.
Elsewhere around the Capitol, there are lobbying groups from the Physical Therapy Association and the service employees union.
A complete list of hearings is inside the blog.
OLYMPIA — A bill that would require parental notification when a woman under 18 seeks an abortion in Washington could divide the Senate's “majority coalition” intent on passing bills on jobs, budget and education.
The notification bill, with strong support from Senate Republicans opposed to abortion, is likely to get a hearing in the next few weeks in the Law and Justice Committee, whose chairman Mike Padden of the Spokane Valley is a strong supporter. It would be the first bill dealing with parental notification on abortions to receive a Senate hearing in years, and support on the committee makes it likely to clear the panel.
Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, who serves as the leader of the coalition of all 23 Republicans and two Democrats, wants to doesn't support bringing such a divisive issue before the full Senate. Although the coalition will have to discuss whether to bring an abortion bill to the floor, he believes they should focus on three things: increasing jobs, getting a balanced and sustainable budget, and improving education.
“We will not divide our caucus on issues that are going to be divisive,” Tom said as a press conference Thursday. At a later meeting with a delegation of local business and civic leaders from Spokane, Tom described himself as “100 percent pro-choice.”
Sen. Mark Schoesler, the leader of the 23 Republicans in the caucus, said there's a wide range of issues addressed in bills being proposed because “members are free to introduce anything they want.” Whether to bring the parental notification bill to the floor, if it gets out of committee, “is yet to be determined,” he said.
Sen. Padden address the March for Life demonstration on the steps of the Capitol.
OLYMPIA — A proposed law requiring parents to be notified of an abortion for any woman under 18 will get a hearing in a Senate committee this year, and possibly a full debate and floor vote.
State Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, told a crowd of more than 2,000 anti-abortion activists Tuesday that the first parental notification bill in many years will definitely get a Senate hearing in the next few weeks.
“You have to keep up the fight,” he told demonstrators at the annual March for Life, who filled the steps of the Capitol and the steps of the Temple of Justice across the flag plaza. . .
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.
OLYMPIA — Anti-abortion activists will be at the Capitol today to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The annual protest is usually one of the largest of any session.
Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, is likely to get cheers from the crowd for his announcement that he will hold a hearing on a bill to require parental notification for any woman under 18 seeking an abortion. There's a similar bill in the House, sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea, also R-Spokane Valley; that chamber also has a proposal that would make “the right to life begins at the moment the individual comes into being.”
None of those bills are scheduled for a hearing today, but a wide range of other ideas get an airing on a full day of hearings: labeling seafood; standards for science being used by state agencies; sampling wine and beer in stores and allowing some wine stores to stock craft distillery products; public votes for annexations… and that's just a partial list. For a full list of committee hearings, go inside the blog.
Plus Gov. Jay Inslee and State Attorney General Bob Ferguson are scheduled to report on their talk with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on efforts to avoid a war between the state and the feds on Washington's legalization of marijuana.
OLYMPIA – The start of a new Legislature with a new administration is much given over to pomp and ceremony, so it wasn’t too surprising that most of the players aren’t yet bringing their A game when it comes to rhetoric.
Still, there were troubling signs that we’re all in for a long, hard slog if the level of debate doesn’t improve at some point soon.
For example, Gov. Jay Inslee showed clearly in his inaugural address where he’s willing to lock horns with Republicans in the Legislature. Abortion. Climate change. Medicaid expansion.
Republicans assembled in the joint legislative session sat in stony silence when he called for them to pass the Reproductive Parity Act, which would require any insurance company that covers live births to also cover abortions. Some shook their heads when he said the science is settled on climate change and when he said they should take the federal government up on its offer to pay the costs of expanding Medicaid.
Abortion is too divisive an issue, GOP leaders said in a post-speech press conference. . .
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.
OLYMPIA – Nearly all medical insurance plans in Washington that offer maternity care would be required to cover abortions under a bill supporters described as a minor adjustment to adjust to new federal laws but opponents denounced as an infringement on religious liberties.
HB 2330 has broad support in the House, where it has 33 co-sponsors. But it's also a target of abortion opponents who held their annual rally earlier this week on the Capitol steps.
Rep. John Ahern, (center with back to the camera) addresses the March for Life rally on the north Capitol steps Tuesday.
OLYMPIA — A couple of inches of sloppy snow did not keep pro-life groups from participating in the annual March for Life this afternoon.
The event featured speeches from several legislators, including Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, and Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane.
Ahern asked demonstrators to support a bill he has introduced that would require any woman seeking an abortion to be shown a sonogram of the fetus.
Washington State Patrol officials estimated the crowd at about 450, which is down from some previous years with better weather.
OLYMPIA — Opponents of abortion filled the Capitol steps Tuesday as legislators urged them to fight against federal health care mandates and proposals that would set new rules for their crisis pregnancy clinics.
A crowd estimated at more than 4,000 by the Washington State Patrol marched from the nearby gardens under banners representing the Orthodox Church, Catholic parishes, the Knights of Columbus or the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Demonstrators carried crosses draped with rosaries or adorned with roses, professionally printed octagonal red signs that said “Stop Abortion Now” or hand-lettered messages such as “Which are more protected, Babies or Whales?”
Rep. Matt Shea, R-Greenacres, asked for their help to pass HB 1688, which would require every minor considering an abortion to have an ultrasound and another, HB 2669, that would nullify the effects of any national health care legislation in Washington.
“If we get life issues wrong, we get every other issue wrong,” Shea said.
Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, urged them to lobby against a bill that she said would require so-called Crisis Pregnancy Clinics to include abortion as an option when talking to patients. That’s a violation of both freedome of speech and freedom of religion, Stevens said.
SB 6452 requires what it calls “limited service pregnancy centers” to tell patients that they do not offer abortion or comprehensive birth control services, to give only “medically and scientifically accurate” information and to tell a patient if a pregnancy test is an over-the-counter test which she can administer herself.
Lt. Mark Arras of the WSP estimated the crowd at more than 4,000, and said it was the largest protest at the Capitol since last spring, when the Tea Party had about 5,000 attend a tax protest.
About a dozen abortion-rights protesters stood across the parking area on the steps to the state Supreme Court building, sometimes banging a drum, other times chanting “My Body, My Choice” or “Keep it Safe and Legal.” But they were easily drowned out by the anti-abortion crowd spelling out “L-I-F-E, Life!” or “We are, we are Pro-Life” to the cadence of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” About the only time they could be heard for a prolonged period was when the abortion protesters were hushed for the opening prayer.