Majority of senators vow to back abortion rights bill

Twenty-five state senators, including the majority leader and one Republican member, issued a letter this morning committing to vote for a controversial abortion rights bill if it reaches the floor of the chamber.

Release of the letter turns up the heat on Senate Republicans who dominate the Majority Coalition Caucus and have not said whether they will allow the bill known as the Reproductive Parity Act to be voted on.

The letter was signed by 24 Democratic senators including Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom of Medina and social conservative Paull Shin of Edmonds. The lone Republican is Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island.

Sen Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, released the letter as the Senate Health Care Committee conducted an emotional two-hour public hearing on House Bill 1044.

“We have 25 votes, let’s pass the Reproductive Parity Act,” Hobbs said in a press release accompanying the letter. “It’s imperative that we create this protection for women in order to ensure their constitutional right of choice and more importantly, for their health. We have seen in some states an erosion of women’s health and choice and what we want to ensure is that there’s a firewall against that erosion in our state.”

House Bill 1044 passed the House 53-43 in February

While every insurance carrier and nearly every health plan in Washington already covers abortion services, supporters say questions about abortion coverage may arise as federal health care reforms take hold next year. This bill, they say, is needed to prevent confusion and potential barriers to woman obtaining coverage, they say.

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