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Originally published Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

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Wash. abortion insurance bill taken off agenda

A measure to require most insurers in Washington state to cover abortions has been dealt a setback as a key lawmaker has reversed a decision to hear the bill in a Senate committee.

Associated Press

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

A measure to require most insurers in Washington state to cover abortions has been dealt a setback as a key lawmaker has reversed a decision to hear the bill in a Senate committee.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, who chairs the chamber's Law and Justice Committee, announced earlier this week that the panel would hear the proposal supporters call the Reproductive Parity Act, despite what he called its "flaws."

Padden says the measure, which was to be discussed Friday, puts federal dollars at risk and threatens religious liberty.

"I'm not afraid to give this bill a good airing because the more facts that come out Friday, the better," Padden said in a news release Monday.

Padden on Thursday declined to say whether Senate Bill 5576 would receive a new hearing date after it was removed from the agenda a day earlier. Padden spokesman Eric Campbell, contacted by email, declined to say why it had been pulled from Friday's agenda.

Supporters say the bill is meant to ensure that existing abortion coverage be preserved once new health insurance rules come into effect in 2014 under national health care overhaul. It is doubtful that the bill would have emerged from the Republican-controlled Law and Justice Committee, even if it had reached the hearing.

An identical measure, Senate Bill 5009, was earlier referred to the Senate's Health Care Committee, where it has not been scheduled for a hearing. The companion House Bill 1044 received a hearing last week and is scheduled to be voted out of the Health Care and Wellness Committee Friday.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, a sponsor of the measure, said she was disappointed that its hearing was cancelled.

"I don't just come to Olympia to pass a budget," she said. "We have important policies. We need to deal with them and by putting things off they don't just go away."

Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island, the lone Senate Republican signed on as a sponsor, did not return calls seeking comment.

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Follow AP Writer Jonathan Kaminsky at http://www.twitter.com/jekaminsky

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