Inslee pushes for constitutional amendment and other protections in wake of Roe v Wade overturn
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing for increased protections for reproductive care.
Abortion remains legal in Washington state, but Inslee said Saturday that access needs to be solidified to ensure it is guaranteed in the future. He will ask state legislators to pass an amendment enshrining abortion access in the state’s constitution.
The amendment would require a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate before it can go before the people of the state for a vote.
Though the Supreme Court decision hasn’t resulted in changes to abortion access in Washington, the same can’t be said in other areas of the country.
And while other states move to restrict or ban abortions, Inslee said he wants to make Washington a sanctuary state for pregnant people and their providers.
“We will use every resource under the law to defend the rights to choice, to defend privacy rights and defend safety of citizens, including those who come from other states,” Inslee said.
To start that effort, Inslee said he’ll issue an executive order next week directing the Washington State Patrol not to cooperate with investigators trying to enforce laws from states without abortion protections.
He said he’ll also ask state lawmakers to create legislation making this approach standard for all law enforcement agencies in Washington.
There’s concern that states banning abortions may try to prosecute people who seek care elsewhere, along with those who assist them. Inslee also said he wants to strengthen privacy laws.
Abortion rights advocates and lawmakers joined Inslee Saturday to decry the Supreme Court ruling and pledge to fight for abortion access.
Among them, state Senator Manka Dhingra, who said Washington's laws are only as good as the access they create.
“While abortion, reproductive health care, gender-affirming care are all legal in Washington, there is a lot more work that needs to be done to ensure that they're accessible to everyone in Washington and all those individuals who need to leave their home states to access medical care,” Dhingra said.
An influx of patients from other states is anticipated in Washington. Inslee pledged Saturday to provide $1 million under his emergency authority to help bolster services in the state.
“We’ve been planning for decades for this potential reality and it is here. It’s not going to be easy, but we are here,” said Dr. Erin Berry, an abortion provider and medical director for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.
Berry and others assured patients that they would do their best to meet demand for services. Berry said her heart breaks for her patients and her colleagues in other states.
“Abortion bans try to impose a false black-or-white world and cruelly ignore the complexity, not only of real-life health care decisions, but also the complexity of our lives as humans.”
Berry said abortion bans will have the biggest impact on those already facing health care disparities, including communities of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and those with fewer financial resources.