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caption: King County Executive Dow Constantine talks to reporters, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, during a news conference in Seattle.
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King County Executive Dow Constantine talks to reporters, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, during a news conference in Seattle.
Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

King County prepares for fallout from overturning Roe v Wade

King County Executive Dow Constantine signed an executive order Tuesday that prevents the Sheriff’s Office from cooperating with out-of-state investigations of people seeking abortions locally.

More updates in KUOW's Today So Far Blog!

The move comes in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade, and a number of states already implementing abortion bans. States like Massachusetts and Nevada have similar order in place, preventing local aid of out-of-state investigations. Concerns around such a situation stem from places like Missouri, which have proposals to make it illegal for its residents to get abortions, even if they are out-of-state. The legal landscape on such cross-state regulations are unclear at this point.

At the same time, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell is responding at the federal level. She wants to protect the health data of those who might seek an abortion.

"We want a tool in place that says women's healthcare data should be protected," Cantwell said Tuesday.

Sen. Cantwell is now co-sponsoring a bill that would require things like period-tracking apps to let users know what information is being collected and how it is being used or shared. If passed, the law would also require apps, phones, and browsers, for example, to give users a mechanism for requesting that their sexual and reproductive health data be deleted. The onus would still be on users to make the request.

Cantwell said she’s worried people’s digital trail — say, information about a pregnancy, or travel to an abortion clinic — might be used against them, and against the provider who gave them an abortion. She said giving people more control over their data would thus help protect both people who seek, and people who provide, abortions.

Out-of-state abortion needs

In the wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade, King County expects to get an influx of patients coming from out-of-state, where abortions have been banned. Officials are now preparing for that surge.

The King County Council approved half a million dollars for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund on Tuesday. The non-profit will help pay for transportation, lodging, and abortion services. The organization says it’s already received calls from out of state since the court ruling.

The Council’s only no-vote came from Reagan Dunn.

“I don’t believe King County taxpayers should be on the hook for paying for these services when they’re used to help residents outside of King County and Washington state," Dunn said.

More updates in KUOW's Today So Far Blog!