Support Immigrants. Restore SB 5602.
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To Speaker Frank Chopp and the Democratic Leadership of the House of Representatives:
The Health Equity and Reproductive Rights Coalition (HERRO) expresses incredible disappointment that the House of Representatives passed the Reproductive Health Access for All Act (SB 5602) with striking amendment 658, which removed the Take Charge look-alike program (Section 2). We believe that immigration status should not affect anyone’s ability to access family planning care, and are sad to see that the House does not share these same values.
With the amendment, legislators will have stripped this bill of what matters most to communities most affected by it. Our coalition will not stand for it, and therefore we must formally withdraw all support for the bill if the amendment hangs.
Our state has long protected the rights of every Washingtonian to access the full spectrum of reproductive care. Our coalition celebrates the legislature when our champions pass bills that fix the system when it isn’t working for everyone. Reproductive Health Access for All is the greatest opportunity we have this year to close gaps in existing law and ensure that burdensome costs and dehumanizing insurance processes don’t prevent transgender individuals and undocumented residents from accessing the care they need.
Many people in Washington are categorically denied health coverage because of their immigration status and are forced to go without critical reproductive health care services.
Denied agency to make decisions about their own reproductive health, family planning, and reproductive autonomy, immigrants in Washington face higher rates of unplanned pregnancy and negative birth outcomes. SB 5602 is integral in addressing these disparities.
Washington is home to an estimated 250,000 people who are undocumented. Due to federal restrictions, these members of our community cannot participate in state programs, such as Medicaid or Washington’s Take Charge family planning program. The Reproductive Health Access for All Act fills this gap by creating a state-funded program to cover comprehensive reproductive health care services for immigrants who currently cannot access state medical services due to federal restrictions.
For years, the HERRO Coalition has worked directly with the communities impacted by this bill to develop a policy that was informed by their experience and accountable to their needs. We also have endeavored to be good partners with leadership, meeting with them every week during session. Never once did concerns about the Take Charge provision of the bill arise in those conversations with leadership. Our coalition has made a great many concessions to this bill in order to work in good faith to reduce costs. We were willing to make those concessions because the communities we worked with made it clear that the Take Charge look-alike program, the gender-neutral language, and expanded coverage for reproductive health services were the most important aspects of the bill.
We live in a time of great fear and injustice for the communities this bill aims to support. As Democratic legislators, you have a choice to make. You can stand with immigrants in our state by retaining the Take Charge program and funding it, or you can stand against them by stripping them of access to the necessary healthcare this bill would provide. The people of Washington are watching.
The Health Equity and Reproductive Rights Organizations (HERRO) Coalition brings together over a dozen advocacy organizations and reproductive health care providers in Washington state to advance equity in sexual and reproductive rights, health, and justice. HERRO is advocating for the Reproductive Health Access for All Act to ensure that all people in Washington, especially those already marginalized by gender identity or immigration status, have access to the reproductive health care they need to thrive. We cannot secure our health, self-determination, and rights to build and raise our families with dignity if we do not include those marginalized by gender identity and immigration status in our vision for justice.
In summary, we are furious at the decision by House Democratic Leadership to strip undocumented people from SB 5602. We look forward to the Senate standing strong behind the work they’ve already done to pass a solid version of this bill and implore them to refuse to concur with the House version of the bill.
The HERRO Coalition:
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Cedar River Clinics
Full Spectrum Doulas
Gender Justice League
If When How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice
Midwives Association of Washington State
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington
National Organization for Women, Washington State Chapter
Northwest Abortion Access Fund
Northwest Health Law Advocates
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii
Raiz at Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington & North Idaho
Surge Reproductive Justice
Washington State Chapter, American Association of University Women
Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Latino Community Fund/Progresso
Asian Counseling and Referral Service
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