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Republican lawmakers say they won't pursue anti-abortion legislation, despite warnings from Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee is warning that abortion rights aren't iron clad in Washington, despite claims from Republican lawmakers that they won't pursue a ban.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — While Friday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will not have any immediate impact on Washingtonians, it did spark political disagreement between Gov. Jay Inslee and Republican leadership.

Inslee warned that abortion rights in Washington could be in danger if Republicans were able to claim a legislative majority.

Republican leaders, whose party has filed numerous anti-abortion measures in recent years countered that claim, saying they don’t expect to change state law and are focused on other issues.

“What happened in Washington, D.C. this morning,” said Inslee, D-Washington, “we cannot allow that to happen in Washington state in the future.”

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that federally guaranteed access to abortion. The decision doesn't have a direct impact on Washington state, but now Inslee is arguing state laws protecting abortion rights will be easier to change if Republicans gain control of the majority in Olympia. 

Inslee cited a series of abortion-related bills submitted by Republican legislators in recent legislative sessions. He said past attempts at passing abortion-related bills show Republicans are determined to ban the procedure.

Some called for complete bans, while others called for parental notification and prohibiting procedures paid for with public funding. 

Most of the laws have never received a hearing and did not come up for serious debate.

Inslee said that would change if the House or Senate get a Republican majority.

“The only way for us to protect ourselves is to keep Republicans from controlling our state legislature,” said Inslee, “That will be on the ballot this November.”

Senate Minority Leader, Sen. John Braun, called Inslee’s comments “fear-mongering.”

He said the Supreme Court decision will not change existing state laws, including voter-passed initiatives in 1970 and 1991 guaranteeing abortion rights in Washington state.

“The people have put this in place themselves, there’s no history of issues this big being undone without additional acts of the people,” said Braun, R-Lewis County.

Braun said his party is more concerned with issues like rising gas prices, inflation, and an increase in crime.

“These are the things that most people are worried about,” said Braun.

Gov. Inslee said he would like to see a constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights in the state.

That would require a two-thirds majority in the state House and Senate, as well as voter approval.

Braun said he would not support an amendment.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Braun.

Even if Republicans did gain a majority in the House and Senate the governor would still have veto power over any legislation seeking to ban abortion, State Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic said. 

"This is a pro-choice state," she said. 

Inslee's current term ends in 2025. 

Maycumber agreed that limiting or banning abortions is not a priority for the state Republican party. 

    

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