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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Even With Enough Votes To Pass, Abortion Coverage Mandate May Fail

Abortion-rights supporters say they have enough votes to pass a controversial insurance mandate measure in the Washington state Senate. But it appears unlikely to clear a Republican-led health care committee before a Wednesday deadline.

Things got testy Monday at a public hearing on the measure. Democrat Karen Keiser urged Republican Chair Randi Becker to allow a committee vote on the bill.

“It’s the right thing to do and I would really ask you to consider my request,” Keiser said. To which Becker responded, “Thank you. We’ll consider it.”

The measure would require health insurance providers in Washington to pay for abortions – something they currently do. But backers worry that could change under the federal Affordable Care Act.

If the measure dies in committee, supporters could band together and force a floor vote. The so-called Reproductive Parity Act has already passed the Washington House and is a priority of Democratic Governor Jay Inslee.

On the Web:

EHB 1044: Abortion coverage mandate - Washington Legislature 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."