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Spin Control

Posts tagged: planned parenthood

Abortion coverage bill faces deadline

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.

Mainstream GOP to Inslee: That money’s tainted

Washington Republicans are trying to wring every last drop out of any connection Washington may have to Anthony Weiner's bad behavior, however tenuous it may be.

Last week the state GOP criticized Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., for accepting a $1,000 contribution from Weiner, saying the current congressman and likely gubernatorial candidate should “send back the tainted money.”

The fact that the contribution was made in 2000 wasn't mentioned in the press release, although it could be discerned from following the helpful link to Weiner's contribution history with the Federal Elections Commission

Rather than give the money back to Weiner, Inslee's campaign announced it was donating it to Planned Parenthood.

Not good enough, the Mainstream Republicans complained today. Two members of the moderate wing, who identify themselves as pro-choice, accused Inslee of trying to “clean up his mess” by giving the “tainted money” to Planned Parenthood. He shoulda gived it to a food bank or the Red Cross, they said…

Special Session Day 1: Saving money with more contraception?

OLYMPIA — Washington state could save about $4.5 million over the next two years by supplying more women with better birth control, a Senate panel was told Tuesday. But a critic of the proposal to spend more state money on a family planning program suggested it will actually lead to more unplanned pregnancies, not fewer.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee is considering a proposal to spend an extra $900,000 on the Take Charge Program, and receive nearly $9 in federal money for each dollar of state money, it could cover women up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The state currently covers only women below 200 percent of the poverty level for a program that includes exams, PAP smears and birth control. Under federal law, the money can't be used for abortions.

By expanding the program, the state could expect to avoid paying for about 712 unplanned pregnancies in uninsured families,which cost the state about $17,000 each, officials with the Department of Social and Health Services said. About half of all births in Washington are paid for by the state, DSHS officials said.

When some senators questioned whether women in that group couldn't afford their own contraceptions, health officials said they could, but are likely to use less expensive and less effective birth control. “You get what you pay for,” Dr. Laurie Cawthon, an epidemiologist for DSHS, said.

But Joseph Backholm of the Family Policy Institute contended more birth control will create problems, not solve them. It will lead to more risky sex, more pregnancies and more sexually transmitted disease, he said.

Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R-Maple Valley, said it sounded as if Backholm was saying there'd be less risky behavior if the state didn't provide contraception, and when he said that wasn't correct, she asked what he thought the state should do.

“Ultimately, to my mind, it's a character issue,” Backholm replied.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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