Wash. lawmakers weigh new abortion rules

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Washington state representatives are weighing whether the state should require health insurers covering maternal care to also cover elective abortions.

In a public hearing Thursday, the state House's Health Care and Wellness Committee heard arguments from both sides of the abortion debate. Supporters said the bill would simply ensure that currently-existing abortion coverage will be preserved once federal health insurance rules come into effect in 2014.

Opponents said the bill would force insurers and business owners providing health care to offer abortion coverage even if they oppose it on moral grounds.

Starting in 2014, most individual and small group health care plans will be required to cover a set of medical conditions, among them pregnancy.

A federal provision known as the Hyde Amendment bars federal Medicaid funds from being used for abortions.