Washington Senate group blocks abortion insurance

Associated Press

OLYMPIA — A Republican-dominated coalition in the Washington state Senate blocked discussion on a plan to require insurers to cover abortion Wednesday, voting down a procedural motion after a tense exchange about why the legislation has languished in the chamber.

Some Democrats in the Senate moved to take up an insurance bill ahead of a key cutoff, saying they planned to amend the measure to include the abortion rules. Republican Sen. Steve Litzow and Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom have both expressed support for the abortion insurance legislation, but they were both among those who voted to help narrowly defeat the effort.

In making her motion, Democratic Sen. Karen Keiser bemoaned that the majority coalition hadn’t allowed a vote on the bill, even though it appears to have enough support to pass the chamber. The abortion insurance bill has already passed the state House, and Gov. Jay Inslee has repeatedly urged the Senate to approve it.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler sternly responded to Keiser, saying she was “impugning” her fellow senators. He urged colleagues to vote on the procedural aspect of the motion, not on the ultimate intent of the legislation.

Afterward, Republican Sen. Don Benton accused Democrats of trying to take advantage of the absence of GOP Sen. Mike Carrell, who has been ill. He said the efforts may force Senate leaders to ask Carrell to come to the chamber, potentially jeopardizing his health.

“It’s despicable,” Benton said.

Supporters say the measure would ensure continued abortion coverage in the state once federal health care reforms taking effect next year. Opponents counter that abortion insurance coverage is already widespread in the state and that the bill is unnecessary.

The bill would make Washington the first state to require insurers that cover maternity care to also pay for abortions.

More in Local News

Agencies launch coordinated response to an opioid ‘emergency’

Health workers, law enforcement agencies and emergency managers are responding as they might to a disaster.

Jordan Evers distributes coffee Sunday afternoon during the annual community meal at Carl Gipson Senior Center in Everett on November 19, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Firefighters serve Thanksgiving meals at Carl Gipson center

The next two feasts at the senior center in Everett will be Thanksgiving Day and Dec. 3.

Hiker rescued on Boulder River trail after 15-foot fall

She was reported to have possible leg and rib fractures.

Alleged philanderer attacked with hammer near Everett

His girlfriend had accused him of cheating and allegedly called on another man to confront him.

Snohomish County Council passes a no-new-taxes budget

The spending plan still funds the hiring of five new sheriff’s deputies and a code enforcement officer.

Darrington School Board race might come down to a coin flip

With a one-vote difference, a single ballot in Skagit County remains to be counted.

Is the state Transportation Commission irrelevant?

A report says the citizen panel often is ignored, and its duties overlap with the Transportation Department.

Pair charged with first-degree robbery in marijuana theft

A man was shot in the head during a holdup that was supposed to net about an ounce of pot.

Most Read