By Trudi Inslee/For the Reporter
The Reproductive Parity Act, SB 6219, is a barrier-breaking bill several years in the making. The RPA is just one of the ways we are ensuring Washington women have access to the full spectrum of health care they need, without cost barriers or stigma. It is a policy that reflects what we know to be true: reproductive health care, including family planning and abortion care, is health care.
Similar to other essential health care services or prescriptions, the RPA will require insurance companies to cover abortion care and birth control and begin to address reproductive health disparities and cost barriers throughout the state. It affirms Washington state as a national leader on health care and sets a standard that other states – and Washington, D.C. – should follow.
The RPA requires insurance plans to serve all people who can become pregnant in three important ways.
First, it improves access to all forms of contraception. Many people need birth control, but they do not all need the same birth control or for the same reasons.
Currently, insurance plans can cover only the contraception options they choose, limiting the choices and options available to many women. This legislation requires insurance coverage of all FDA-approved birth control methods without cost-sharing, delay or denial of coverage.
Second, it guarantees access regardless of ability to pay. For many who need access to abortion care, the cost is a significant barrier. This legislation requires that all insurance companies that cover maternity care also cover abortion care.
And third, it improves work to reduce barriers to health care that many low-income women or women of color face. Unpredictable work schedules, unreliable transportation options, and shortage of nearby providers should not prevent women from getting the care they need. By examining disparities that negatively impact reproductive, sexual, and maternal health care outcomes and health disparities for people of marginalized communities. This work has already begun under our state’s maternal health panel and we must continue to help policymakers adopt policies that break down barriers, including gender equity.
The RPA makes a clear statement that Washington state stands for women and it stands for affordable, compassionate health care for all. A woman’s right to choose has been under attack across the nation, with relentless attempts to limit access, provide misinformation, harass and intimidate. Washington state has chosen to go the other way, empowering women who need contraception and abortion care access without shame or stigma. I hope the rest of the country will follow.
This bill has been in the works for years, and it is thanks to women’s health and pro-choice groups and dedicated pro-choice legislators that this landmark legislation is possible. Jay and I are wholeheartedly committed to the continued fight to protect Washington women’s right to choose, expand access to reproductive care and family planning services, and defeat ideologically driven attempts to block that access.
I urge other states to follow our lead.
First Lady Trudi Inslee is a former NARAL Pro-Choice Washington Board Member.