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Updated Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Hearing on insurance coverage for abortions draws large crowd in Olympia

By Andrew Garber
The Seattle Times

A state House hearing room filled to capacity as soon as the doors opened on Thursday for a committee meeting on legislation

requiring health-insurance plans to cover abortions. Security guards had to send people to overflow rooms in the basement a half hour before the start of the 8 a.m. hearing on the Reproductive Parity Act. But, compared to past hearings dealing with abortions, the crowd was relatively subdued with no signs, chants or loud protests.

Debbie Ewald of Olympia stood outside the door with a group of friends. She had no plans to testify but said she wanted to be there "because I believe this is a great infringement upon a large portion of the citizens of our state."

Supoorters say the law is needed to ensure continued access to insurance coverage of abortions. Opponents say the measure is not needed because all insurers in the state already cover abortion

The Reproductive Parity Act would require insurance companies continue to cover abortions once the national health-care law goes into full effect in 2014. But there's uncertainty about how the federal health-care overhaul, and restrictions on abortion funding, might affect abortion coverage in the future.

Legislators say there’s strong support for the measure in the Democrat-controlled House. A similar measure has been introduced in the Republican-controlled Senate. It’s not clear if the Senate bill will get a hearing, given stronger opposition in that chamber.


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