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Washington state AG seeks protection for out-of-state abortion providers

In the letter, AG Bob Ferguson asked that providers who were penalized under out-of-state abortion laws still be able to practice in Washington.

SEATTLE — Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson sent a letter to the multiple healthcare entities across the state asking them to "exercise discretion" when licensing out-of-state medical providers who were penalized for providing abortion services in other states.

In the letter, Ferguson asked that providers who were penalized under out-of-state abortion laws still be able to practice in Washington state as long as they otherwise meet Washington's standard of care.

The letter was sent to members of the following medical entities:

  • Washington Medical Commission 
  • Washington State Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery
  • Washington State Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission
  • Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission.

The Washington Medical Commission, the Washington Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery and the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission are responsible for providing licenses to medical providers in Washington state. According to Ferguson, this process involves a criminal background check. Prosecutions and convictions for certain crimes can disqualify providers from being licensed in Washington. 

If the United States Supreme Court allows states to enforce their own laws regarding abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade, Ferguson is asking the boards to ensure providers who were penalized for abortion laws in other states to remain eligible to practice in Washington state.

Ferguson also asked the board to issue clear guidance stating that a provider will not be disqualified from licensing solely for providing reproductive or gender-affirming care that is legal in Washington but criminalized in other states.

“If the United States Supreme Court eliminates the federal right to abortion and reproductive care, medical providers who come to Washington to practice should be not penalized for providing this essential care that is legal in Washington,” Ferguson said in a statement. “We have the opportunity here to stand up for our values that voters have adopted into law.”

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