Contact: Megan Burbank, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, (206) 624-1990
Erik Houser, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, (425) 308-7700
Janet Chung, Legal Voice, (425) 306-4761
Doug Honig, ACLU of Washington, (206) 624-2184
MEDIA ADVISORY: State Senate Democrats to Hold Briefing Today On the Reproductive Parity Act
Olympia, WA – Today, a combination of Washington State Senate and House Democrats will hold a briefing on the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) in coalition with women’s rights and civil liberties groups. The briefing is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 1 at the Capitol.
With two weeks left in the legislative session and no official Senate hearing scheduled for the RPA, Senate Democratic leaders have taken the lead in working to educate their colleagues on Washington’s shifting health care landscape, and key changes that have occurred since the RPA was last introduced. Presenters at the briefing will include concerned consumers, stakeholders within the insurance industry, health care providers, and others.
In a year when Washington State and the nation face unprecedented changes to our health care systems, passage of legislation like the RPA is critical to ensuring that access to reproductive health care is maintained and expanded, say women’s rights and civil liberties groups.
“At least one carrier on the state health benefit exchange dropped abortion coverage in 2013, and consumers faced confusion about coverage on other plans,” said Rachel Berkson, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “This is just one of many health care changes we’ve seen, and real-world proof that we need the RPA. It’s time to have a serious conversation about access to abortion in our state, and we appreciate the steps our Senate leaders have taken to get the ball rolling.”
Elaine Rose, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, echoed Berkson’s appreciation for the Senate Democrats’ decision to take matters into their own hands, saying, “We’ve been hearing from women all across the state this session who are anxious for the legislature to pass the RPA, and finally at least one part of the State Senate is listening. While we welcome this meeting, it’s important to remember that giving an opportunity for women’s voices to be heard is not the last step, it’s just the first step. We continue to call on the Majority Caucus to bring this up for a vote on the floor.”
Advocates also emphasized the bill’s public support among their constituencies, and its consistency with Washington’s record on reproductive choice.
“Washington State has always been a leader in health care reform and reproductive health. It is deeply disappointing that the RPA has not progressed this year,” said Lisa Stone, Legal Voice Executive Director. “This sends a message to Washington women that our physical and economic health are not matters of paramount importance worth protecting through our laws.”
“Our state has a strong tradition of providing legal protections for reproductive freedom, and we need to continue doing so,” added Shankar Narayan, legislative director for the ACLU of Washington. “With health care reform being implemented, we need the Reproductive Parity Act more than ever to keep reproductive freedom a reality in Washington.”
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in Washington State. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington works to protect every woman’s right to access the full range of reproductive health options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is the state affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest (PPVNW) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization educating Washingtonians and policy-makers about reproductive health issues. PPVNW lobbies and educates to advance Planned Parenthood's mission and also engages in limited electoral activities.
Legal Voice is a nonprofit women’s rights legal organization that pursues justice for all women and girls in the Northwest through ground-breaking litigation, legislative advocacy, and educational tools to help individuals understand their rights.
The ACLU of Washington is a nonprofit membership organization that works to defend and extend civil liberties and civil rights for all people in Washington.