Two bills to protect abortion rights move forward in Olympia
Two bills in Olympia to protect abortion rights took important steps forward on Tuesday. One, known as a "shield law," seeks to protect people who travel to Washington seeking abortions. The second bill would require insurance coverage of abortion care without co-pays or deductibles.
The shield law bill, HB 1469, also aims to protect those who assist people from states that restrict abortion and gender-affirming care. It also includes protections for health care providers.
"This bill says that other states will not be able to use Washington state courts or Washington state judicial processes to enforce their laws restricting abortion or gender-affirming care," Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island) said on the floor of the House.
Among other things, the bill blocks out-of-state subpoenas related to abortion and reproductive health care locally.
"We will use every tool that we have to protect abortion laws in other states from anti-abortion laws elsewhere," Hansen said.
HB 1469 has passed the House, making it the first abortion rights bill to pass the that body this session. Washington’s state Senate is expected to consider the proposed law in the coming weeks.
Another bill, SB 5242, would require insurance companies to pay for abortion coverage without charging any co-pays or deductibles also moved ahead. That bill passed in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon.
A proposed amendment to anchor abortion rights in the Washington Constitution has failed. Abortion rights advocates say the proposed constitutional amendment would have made it harder for the U.S. Supreme Court to take existing reproductive rights away.
But state Democrats did not have enough votes this year to get an amendment onto the general election ballot.
Several other abortion rights bills are still under consideration in Olympia, including a data privacy law, HB 1155, which would regulate period-tracking apps and other health sites that are not protected by federal privacy laws like HIPAA.