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Washington HB 1009: An Attempt to Increase Chemical Abortions at Universities
Karlie Lodjic | 01 February 2021
A bill now before Washington State Legislators would embrace a radical idea: student health plans that seek to aid pregnant and parenting women must also cover abortions. These plans intended to help women in their journey through motherhood must also end the lives of their preborn children.
In the 2017-2018 legislative session, the Washington State Legislature passed the Reproductive Parity Act (SB 6219). This bill, now law, requires any health care plan covering maternity care to provide similar coverage for abortion. Groups like Students for Life of America and Human Life of Washington made efforts to stop it, as did many pro-life senators and representatives. Still, the rest of the legislature did not listen. Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Legal Voice were some of the bill's biggest proponents. Elissa Goss from NARAL even said about the bill, “[n]o institution should be allowed to deny health care coverage or insurance on the basis of religious beliefs. Religious exemptions create a harmful gap in a patient’s right to the full range of reproductive choices.”
In this session, they are attempting to expand this act. The new bill takes advantage of young women in college who face unplanned pregnancies and turn educational institutions into abortion providers for students. Instead of focusing our collective efforts on empowering and equipping young women, new legislation seems to want them to be forced to choose between their education and their child.
Student health plans are currently exempt from the Reproductive Parity Act, but House Bill 1009 seeks to change that. This legislation requires student health plans that cover maternity care to also provide coverage for abortion. There is not a huge clamor in the public for schools to increase abortion access to students; according to Students for Life of America’s own research, nearly 80% of Planned Parenthoods are located within five miles of a college campus. More than anything, this legislation seems to be intended to push the pro-abortion agenda and increase business for the abortion industry. It is horrifying to think what extra encouragement to get an abortion will result in on a college campus.
Ending the lives of children in the womb is not why we send students to college. No parent drops their child off at school concerned about where she will go for an abortion. Schools are not equipped to deal with the complications and heartache of that loss of life when students are away from their parents and families, yet this bill gives them that responsibility. Abortion leaves scars that last a lifetime, which should not be inflicted on women trying to begin their lives, and certainly should not be a requirement for schools to provide.
Nearly every medical procedure carries the risk of complications, but abortion often causes emotional trauma that does not come with other procedures. Many young women have died from abortions that they kept secret from those around them because they felt they couldn't tell anyone about their symptoms. HB 1009 encourages them to decide to have an abortion and go through the procedure at school. This changes their environment during this violent procedure from being amongst family to only having their new friends in their dorm for support. Will these young women not be much more likely to keep their medical concerns a secret from their new friends in their dorm than from their family? In addition, more than 100 studies show the linkage between abortion and an increased risk of mental health issues. College is already a time of life when mental health issues tend to emerge. Increased access to abortion could lead to compounded mental illnesses and “unexplained” crowdedness of the school counseling center.
According to a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2009, women are four times more likely to experience complications from chemical abortion than surgical abortion, including hemorrhaging, serious infection (known as sepsis), and incomplete abortion. Women are told that they should take two days off work or school, will pass lemon-sized blood clots, and experience cramping. These chemical abortions are completed at home, leaving the woman to determine if she is experiencing too much bleeding. This is not a safe procedure and should not ever take place, much less in the bathroom of a college dorm.
Additionally, abortion appearing as school policy sends the defeatist and misogynist message that women cannot handle both career and family. It undermines and casts doubt on women’s abilities and their natural strength to handle family, career, and relationships. Consider that 1 in 5 college students are parents. If we really want to support women, our collective efforts need to be focused on empowering and equipping them and protecting them from hostile environments that discriminate against pregnant and parenting women.
The majority of women who have had an abortion say they were pressured into it. Instead of encouraging abortion and putting more pressure on these women, we should be giving them the support they need to avoid it. Students for Life of America's Standing With You Initiative works to educate women about their rights and provide them support, including legal assistance, to complete their educations. Students who have benefitted from this initiative have told Students for Life that the pressure to abort to further their education and career is often enormous. Many are coerced into abortion because they do not know that Title IX protects them from being discriminated against and protects them from losing scholarships, housing, athletic eligibility, or an opportunity simply because of their pregnancy or parental status.
Washington State should require academic institutions, advisors, athletic directors, and coaches to be informed about Title IX protections and working to shield students from being coerced into a painful decision. Legislators in Washington State should work to fill the need for child care, maternity parking spaces, and nursing rooms on campuses. Students already have enough pressure to abort and plenty of access to abortion facilities. The legislature needs to recognize abortion for the band-aid solution that it is and start giving real help to young women, so they feel that their choices are truly theirs to choose between freely.
 “The Reproductive Parity Act Passes Through the State Senate.” NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, December 19, 2018. https://prochoicewashington.org/2018/01/31/reproductive-parity-act-passes-state-senate/.
 “SFLA Study Reveals Planned Parenthood Targets College Students!” Students for Life. Students for Life of America, April 12, 2019. https://studentsforlife.org/2012/05/16/sfla-study-reveals-planned-parenthood-targets-college-students/.
 “Summary of Known Health-Risks of Abortion: How Abortion Harms Women and Why Concerns for Women’s Health must be part of Abortion-related Policies and Media Debate,” Americans United for Life, January 2019, https://aul.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Summary-of-Known-Health-Risks-of-Abortion.pdf
 Niinimäki M., et al. (2009). Immediate Complications After Medical Compared with Surgical Termination of Pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 114(4),795-804. DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181b5ccf9
 ] Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, Tessa Holtzman, Barbara Gault, David Croom, and Portia Polk, “PARENTS IN COLLEGE By the Numbers,” Institute for Women’s Policy Research and Ascend at the Aspen Institute, April 11, 2019, Parents in College By the Numbers - IWPR 2020
 Reardon, David, et al. (2004). “Induced Abortion and Traumatic Stress: A Preliminary Comparison of American and Russian Women,” Medical Science Monitor, October 2004. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15448616/.
 Hamrick, Kristi. “Students for Life of America Launches Nationwide Campaign to Educate Pregnant and Parenting Students about Their Title IX Rights.” Students for Life. Students for Life of America, October 24, 2019. https://studentsforlife.org/2019/10/23/students-for-life-of-america-launches-nationwide-campaign-to-educate-pregnant-and-parenting-students-about-their-title-ix-rights/.
Alaska, Hawaii, Washington
Students for Life America