WASHINGTON — State and local officials in Washington are reacting to the United States Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, a major decision after months of protests and years of legal fighting over abortion rights in the country.
The court’s 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was a determination of the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law banning most abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The ruling was handed down Friday morning. President Joe Biden said Friday was “a sad day for the court and the country.”
“Now with Roe gone, let’s be very clear, the health and life of women across this nation are now at risk,” Biden said from the White House.
Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement Friday in a press release with the governors of California and Oregon announcing a commitment between them to "defend access to reproductive health care" and to protect "patients and doctors against efforts by other states to export their abortion bans to our states.”
“The law remains unchanged in Washington state, but the threat to patient access and privacy has never been more dangerous. Even in Washington state, Republicans have introduced about 40 bills in the past six years to roll back abortion rights and access to reproductive care," the statement read, in part.
Inslee's statement later went on to say, “Washington state remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting the ability and right of every patient who comes to our state in need of abortion care, and we will fight like hell to restore that right to patients all across the country.”
In March, Inslee signed a measure into law prohibiting legal action against people seeking an abortion and those who aid them. However, in an interview with KING 5 Friday morning, Inslee said if Republicans get the majority in the state of Washington, they would move to ban abortions in the state "in a heartbeat."
State Republican leaders countered Inslee, saying they don't expect to change state law.
"Nothing will change in the state of Washington," said state Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, "This is a pro-choice state."
Maycumber said even if Republicans gained a majority in Olympia this fall, the governor would still have the ability to veto any abortion-related legislation.
Inslee's current term ends in January 2025.
Maycumber said limiting or banning abortions are not a priority for her party, saying they are more focused on reducing crime, inflation, and gas prices.
"He's making this (abortion) an election issue," said Maycumber.
As for supporting a constitutional amendment securing abortion rights in the state, Maycumber said she would need to see the language of any proposal before commenting on it.
"I would be unlikely to go along with something like that," said Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, "The state has an obligation to protect life."
But Stokesbary said he considers abortion rights "the law of the land" in the state, and said his party does not have immediate plans to change the law if Republicans were to gain a majority in Olympia.
In recent legislative sessions, Republican-sponsored bills proposed limiting and banning abortions, but most of those bills never advanced in the legislative process.
Here's how more state and local leaders responded to the Supreme Court's decision:
King County Executive Dow Constantine
Constantine released the following statement Friday, including an announcement of $1 million in emergency funding to ensure safe access to abortion in King County:
"This morning’s ruling by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade is the culmination of a decades-long strategy by right-wing zealots to strip the essential right to abortion care from millions of Americans.
"On a personal level, I am outraged that my daughter will come of age in a society that treats her as a second-class citizen, without authority even over her own body; in a country that lacks basic supports for families, like universal paid family leave and affordable access to quality child care; and in a country with scandalously high rates of maternal and infant mortality."
"Even though Washington state law protects the right to abortion care, we know that neighboring states are poised to impose some of the strictest and most punitive abortion bans our nation has ever seen. Health care providers and public health leaders are bracing for an influx of people traveling to Washington state and King County to obtain an abortion."
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson
Ferguson called overturning Roe v. Wade, "deeply harmful, shameful and radical" before outlining three promises to Washington citizens in a series of tweets:
“Today, the United States Supreme Court adopted an extremist position and overturned 50 years of precedent upon which Americans have relied. This decision will harm individuals across our country by severely restricting access to safe, legal reproductive health care, and it will strain Washington’s health care network as individuals from Idaho and other states come here seeking the health care they require.
“When the Senate confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the court, I knew this day was possible. Consequently, I told my legal team to start preparing. I will make three promises to Washingtonians:
“As long as I serve in public office, no one will take away Washingtonians’ right to choose. Washingtonians enshrined their right to reproductive freedom into law by voting to pass the Reproductive Privacy Act. I will use every tool to defend this law, and we will fight every legislative effort to remove these fundamental protections.
“Moreover, I will use my authority to ensure Washington welcomes any individual who comes here to access the fundamental right to reproductive justice. I am already working to protect medical professionals who are prosecuted in other states for providing essential health care services that are legal and protected in Washington.
“Finally, we will look for opportunities to bring or support legal efforts to overturn this extreme opinion. My legal team challenged President Trump’s ‘gag rule’ in federal court in Eastern Washington and won a nationwide injunction. We helped defeat Trump’s contraception access rule. We will never stop fighting for reproductive justice.”
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, Harrell said in a statement that his administration “is seeking to invest $250,000 in efforts to expand access to reproductive health care through the Northwest Abortion Access Fund.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision is dangerous, outrageous, and an unacceptable step back for generations of women now and to come. Just yesterday, the Supreme Court limited states’ ability to regulate guns, but today declared states can regulate bodies. We know too many states will react quickly and severely to this ruling and we know the consequences of those efforts to restrict reproductive health care will be dire.
“Maternal mortality will increase. Infant mortality will increase. Poverty will rise and positive health outcomes will decline. Women, transgender, and non-binary people will be forced to seek unsafe abortions. The implications of this decision will disproportionately impact women of color, who are already bearing the brunt of child care in this country. Where we can counter this, we must. Seattle will remain a place where we lead with reproductive justice and where abortion and reproductive health care are available to all who seek it.
“More people will come to Seattle from out of state to seek safe and accessible reproductive care, which is why we’re responding to this unprecedented moment in our supplemental budget proposal. Our administration is seeking to invest $250,000 in efforts to expand access to reproductive health care through the Northwest Abortion Access Fund.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
Murry released the following statement in a series of tweets shortly after the court's decision was announced:
"Today, Republicans dragged this country backwards by half a century. Republicans ripped away our rights and made this generation the first generation of American women with fewer rights than their mothers.
"Republicans are forcing women to stay pregnant and give birth when they don’t want to—no matter the circumstances. They are even passing laws to jail women who get abortions and the doctors who provide them.
"Right here in the Senate, it was Republicans who stacked our Supreme Court with anti-abortion justices, who blocked Democrats’ efforts to protect abortion rights, and who right now are pushing for a federal abortion ban.
"Everyone needs to understand this is a real crisis that'll hurt millions of people across the country—Republicans want a federal abortion ban & #RoeVWade is no longer settled law. We aren’t going to stand idly by while they rip away abortion rights or go after birth control next.
"We are going to stand up and fight back with our voices and our votes—to protect the right of every woman to make her own health care decisions. The American people will not forget Republicans’ cruelty—not today, not tomorrow, and not this November.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
“This is a sad and tragic day in America. Millions of Americans are losing their rights to control their own bodies and their own healthcare.
“Despite decades of Republican Supreme Court nominees coming before the Judiciary Committee and saying that they believe Roe v. Wade is settled law, they have taken a sledgehammer to the right to privacy.
“Some of our state’s biggest employers could be asked to give personal reproductive data to states that criminalize abortion. That’s why, as one step, I co-sponsored the My Body, My Data Act, which would give Americans strong, enforceable rights to protect their most sensitive health information.
“We know that 70% of Americans did not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. They want these rights upheld. Mainstream Americans have counted on this right, depended on this right, exercised this right, and now several justices on the Supreme Court are going back on their word and upending settled law to take this right away.
“Americans could now be criminalized for exercising their personal right of if and when to start a family, and be at risk of suffering life-altering pregnancy complications or death — and their doctors and nurses could be thrown in jail.
“I am hopeful that Americans will respond, as we always have when our rights are taken away. The 70% of Americans who agree must have their voices heard on the constitutional right to privacy. I’m calling on all Americans who believe in this right to exercise their voice and their vote. Every legislative tool and initiative process should be considered.
“As we face attempts to shut down vital health services, now more than ever we need to give our support to the patients who depend on them and the medical professionals who provide them.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
“This is one of the most momentous days in American history for the dignity and sanctity of every human life.
“This is just the beginning of a new era to define the human rights issue of our generation and to provide care, hope, and support for moms and their children at every stage of their lives.
“Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats want an extreme and discriminatory pro-abortion agenda to be the law of the land. Their Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act nationalizes abortions for all nine months, making America just as radical as China and North Korea.
“It legalizes discriminatory abortions at any stage based on a baby’s sex, race, and disability, including Down syndrome. It also overrides state laws that protect women from coercion.
“No part of this agenda celebrates the dignity, value, or potential of human life. Yet, nearly every Democrat in Congress is on the record for it.
“The Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act, which is more radical than Roe, must be stopped by a movement united behind our unalienable, God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.
“Every life is worth living. May this remain the moral bedrock that guides us and our great nation.”
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
“Today is a dark day in American history. An activist conservative court has stripped women in this country of their right to make their own health care decisions and thrown out nearly 50 years of legal precedent under Roe v. Wade.
“This decision represents the culmination of a decades-long effort by Republicans to undermine the basic human rights of millions of Americans, their privacy, and their bodily autonomy. Nothing in my lifetime has threatened the legitimacy of the court more than this decision.
“The burden of this decision will be felt disproportionately by lower-income women and women of color. They will now have to travel hundreds of miles to receive an abortion if they have the resources or be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will.
“States like Washington will not be immune from this decision. Our abortion clinics are bracing for a rush of patients from states with abortion bans. Republicans have been clear that they will pursue a nationwide abortion ban should they take back control of Congress.
“While this is a demoralizing and terrifying day for America, I urge everyone not to give in to despair and to continue standing up for what you believe in. I will keep fighting until we pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and enshrine this right into law once and for all.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
In a statement, Jayapal, who is the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she was "outraged" for the women that need abortion care. The congresswoman said she is one of the women in the country that have needed abortion services.
“Today, a decades-long project of the extreme right-wing has come to fruition: the Supreme Court has overturned the constitutional right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade. As one of the one in four women in this country who has had an abortion, I am outraged for what this will mean for those who need abortion care — particularly those who will be most harmed by this decision: Black and Brown women, those who live in rural areas or have lower incomes and can’t afford to cross state lines for care, young people and LGBTQ people, and women in abusive relationships. The Supreme Court has now mandated forced pregnancy, taking away an intensely personal freedom for pregnant people to make decisions about our own bodies with a doctor or loved one, and instead bringing politicians into your decision and your bedroom. Every woman, every family, every pregnant person should fear what this means for their futures.
“As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I am furious that right-wing extremists and Republican Senators have warped the Supreme Court into a partisan political body that does not respect decades of precedent or the fundamental freedoms of millions of Americans. These five justices were appointed by two presidents who lost the popular vote, yet have overturned what was a 7-2 decision in 1973, a decision that 69 percent of Americans across the political spectrum support today and that Americans have considered settled for half a century. This decision makes it clear that this Supreme Court is far out of step with the American people and taking us backwards, not forward.”
Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA)
Following Friday’s announcement, Newhouse said in a statement on Twitter, "Today, life wins."
Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10)
Strickland called Friday’s decision a “full-on assault on women’s freedoms” and said it would “have dangerous consequences” for women and families across the country:
“This decision is a full-on assault on women’s freedoms that rolls back the fundamental right of reproductive choice in America. This decision will also have dangerous consequences for women and families in the South Sound, and across this country. It means that 26 states can now move quickly to ban abortion - with millions of women losing access to reproductive health care. And it is a dangerous step toward the ultimate goal of the extreme, anti-women movement: A nationwide abortion ban that would block a woman’s right to choose access in every state in the country, including Washington.
“Because of this decision favoring state rights, desegregation of schools (Brown v. Board of Education), gay marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges), interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia), and other federally-protected rights are now in danger. This decision is a threat to the health, safety, economic security, and basic freedoms that we cherish.
“I will never stop fighting in Congress to ensure that safe and legal abortion and family planning care are available to all. I will always support a woman’s right to choose, and I will fight all attempts to restrict access to reproductive health care. I will continue to support funding for Planned Parenthood, and I will keep fighting to ensure that our service members receive the quality, safe reproductive health care they deserve."
Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda
Mosqueda said Friday she will work to make the city a safe space for women seeking abortions:
“Cities like Seattle will continue to be a safe heaven for individuals looking for access to comprehensive healthcare which includes abortions, and value reproductive freedom.
“We need to show our support not only with statements but actions including funding for safe abortions. We need to make sure we protect people seeking care by implementing and enforcing policies to prevent harassment and disruption at abortion clinics including safety regulations and anti-nuisance regulations. Cities will continue to be the forefront of protecting our most vulnerable, and we will come together to fight to make reproductive justice a reality in Seattle.”
Rep. Kim Schrier (WA-08)
"Like many of you, I am devastated and angry. Today’s Supreme Court decision is a massive step backward. Women in half of the states will lose the freedom to make the most important personal healthcare decision of their lives & will be blocked from getting the healthcare they need.
“The government should NEVER be in charge of deeply personal medical decisions. And this particular medical decision - when and whether to become pregnant - is one that impacts every element of a woman’s life and the freedom to chart the course of her life.
“I am grateful that, at least for now, abortion will continue to be legal in WA. But as the only pro-choice woman doctor in Congress, I will keep doing everything I can to protect women’s access to safe abortion no matter where they live. We're not done with this fight.”
Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho
Karl Eastlund, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, released the following statement on the court's decision:
"By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what patients can do with their bodies. This dangerous and chilling decision will have devastating consequences for the patients we serve in Idaho and across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or remain pregnant.
"But make no mistake – this decision goes beyond abortion. This is about who has power over you, who has the authority to make decisions for you, and who can control how your future is going to be.
"It is a dark day for our country, but this is far from over. Patients should know that Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho will always fight for you, and we will not back down. Together, we will rebuild and reclaim our freedom."
In 1991, Washington state voters approved Initiative 120, which offers strong abortion protections, including funding for low-income women who want abortions.
The result of this was the state solidifying abortion rights in Washington.