Under a sea of umbrellas, hundreds of pro-life activists held roses and signs on the steps of the Capitol Legislative Building in Olympia on Monday.
Republican lawmakers spoke to the crowd at the annual March For Life, calling for a halt to several bill aimed at broadening access to contraception and abortion services.
“We have to be louder and stronger than them because we are on the right side of life and of this issue,” Representative Liz Pike, R-Battle Ground, said to the crowd, asking them to speak to their representatives.
One of the bills the pro-life activists oppose is SB 6219, or the Reproductive Parity Act, sponsored by Senator Steve Hobbs, D-Snohomish. The bill was passed out of the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on Monday. The act would allow the state to provide funding for contraception and abortions for those who cannot afford them.
“I think it’s fitting that we move this bill out of committee on the anniversary of Roe v Wade,” Committee Chair Senator Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, said.
At the rally, Senator Jan Angel, R-Kitsap raised objections.
“Paying for abortions on our insurance, with our premiums, and our money is not acceptable,” she said.
Among other bills the group opposed were two sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island.
Ranker’s proposed SB 6102 would require employers who offer health coverage to also cover abortion and contraception with no copay. Ranker sponsored the Employee Reproductive Choice Act in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Burwell v Hobby Lobby and President Donald Trump’s rollbacks on healthcare coverage.
His SB 6105 would make state-funded reproductive programs like abortion, birth control, and hormone therapy, as well as counseling available to undocumented immigrants and transgender patients.
“If we are going to treat everyone with equality, if we are going to be driven by kindness and by love in the decisions that we make, we must not exclude this critical population within our communities from the services we provide,” Ranker said in an impassioned statement to lawmakers.
Both of Ranker’s bills were heard on Monday.
This report was produced by the Olympia bureau of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.