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Sexual abuse education bill moves forward

Abortion mandate, juvenile sentencing reform also progress

Legislation requiring schools to create training guides and provide materials on sexual abuse prevention continues to progress through the Washington State Legislature.

HB 1869 never passed the House Committee on Education, but its Senate companion measure, SSB 5563, is now poised for a vote by the full Senate.

“Sexual abuse and sex trafficking of minors remain prevalent in Washington state,” said Dominican Sister Sharon Park, executive director of the Washington State Catholic Conference, in an interview with The Progress. “This bill would give teachers the necessary tools to spot signs of sexual abuse and teach children the skills to prevent it.”

Abortion mandate, juvenile sentencing

Legislation requiring any insurance plan covering maternity care to also cover abortion was approved by House with a narrow majority. EHB 1044 was referred to the Senate Committee on Health Care on Feb. 25. Its companion bill, SB 5576, was not heard in the Senate, and the fate of  the House measure in the Senate is uncertain.

Representative Steve O’Ban spoke out against HB 1044 before its passage, saying, “There are tens of thousands of employees of the Catholic Church … Currently all their health plans cover maternity care. If 1044 passes, that coverage is jeopardized because the Catholic Church will not provide nor pay for abortions.”

Rep. O’Ban continued, calling the legislation “discrimination against every woman who would be forced by 1044 to come up with $10,000 to cover her prenatal and delivery care.”

Legislation that would reform jail sentencing for juveniles also progressed. SHB 1338 would effectively ban life sentences for people convicted of aggravated murder committed as minors. The state’s bishops support this legislation, which was voted out of committee on Feb. 25.

March 7, 2013

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