Republicans vote both sides of abortion issue
March 12, 2013
By Peter Clark
Issaquah’s 5th District Republican representatives split on a recent vote of a controversial bill.
The Reproductive Parity Act passed the state House of Representatives March 1, mostly along party lines, with a vote of 53-43. Its language would require health insurance providers who cover live births to cover abortions. With those in favor wanting to protect the coverage of pro-choice options and those opposed attempting to protect a provider’s core values, 5th District representatives Chad Magendanz and Jay Rodne played interesting roles.
Magendanz, of Issaquah, was the only Republican in the majority of voters. He took a fiscal view of the bill that separated him from his party.
“My focus right now is on fiscal responsibility. It’s about responsibly making the best use of what we have,” he said. “Requiring coverage of a particular medical condition or requiring coverage of experimental treatments would both be mandates that would drive up costs, but all this bill really says is that a health plan that treats a particular condition, pregnancy in this case, can’t exclude legal and responsible treatment options. In fact, abortion is both a legal and particularly cost effective treatment option, even if it isn’t for everyone.”
In relation to the rest of his party, Magendanz said they fully understood his personal and representative duty to vote in favor of the bill.
“The question really is who should have the freedom to choose the treatment option, the individual or the employer?” he asked. “I’ve decided to support the individual’s right to make this decision, and not the employer’s.”
Rodne, on the other hand, not only voted against it but added an amendment to the vote, hoping to protect the right of religious institutions and other conscientious objectors from having to offer the services.
“The only conscience clause in the bill was nothing of the sort,” the North Bend resident said. “It provided an all-or-nothing approach. Insurance providers had to either provide abortion and maternity services or nothing. That, to me, was unacceptable.”
His amendment to the Reproductive Parity Act contained language that would allow employers to opt out of the services. It was then combined with another amendment added by Rep. Eileen Cody, a Democrat from the 34th District, which Rodne said essentially voided the intent of his modification to the bill.
While both amendments passed, Rodne said, “It really defeated my amendment.”
His hopes for the bill’s future rely on a state Senate attempt to add a conscience clause, to which he doubted the House would respond well.
“This is not about abortion. It’s about protecting religious integrity,” he said.
The bill, designated as SB 5798, will next move to the Senate for consideration.