by: The Associated Press Updated:
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Advocates on both sides of the abortion issue packed a Washington state House hearing to debate a measure requiring insurers to pay for abortions, in addition to the maternity care they're already mandated to provide.
House Bill 1044, better known as the Reproductive Parity Act, is intended to ensure that existing abortion coverage be preserved once new health insurance rules come into effect in 2014 under national health care reform.
At the Thursday hearing, bill opponents said it was wrong to force them to pay for coverage for a procedure they equate with murder. They also said that an exemption for insurance providers on conscience or religious grounds was not strong enough.
Bill supporters said it was necessary to help ensure continued access to abortion coverage.