OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee outlined Saturday how the state intends to shield patients who travel to seek abortions from being pursued by authorities in other states where it is outlawed after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The governors of Washington, Oregon and California issued a joint “multi-state commitment,” saying they will work together to defend patients and care providers. The governors said their states are preparing for an increase in people seeking abortions. Neighboring Idaho has a trigger law, which following Friday’s ruling, will ban abortions except in cases of reported rape or incest, or to protect the mother’s life.
Washington state could see a 385% increase in patients seeking an abortion, according to a study released by the Guttmacher Institute
The governors pledged to “protect against judicial and local law enforcement cooperation with out-of-state investigations, inquiries and arrests” regarding abortions performed in their states.
Here's how Washington, Oregon and California are responding after the overturning of Roe. V. Wade:
On Saturday, Inslee lambasted the U.S. Supreme Court's decision is overturn Roe V. Wade and Republicans' efforts to restrict access to abortion.
Inslee called for a state constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to an abortion and protect it in the event the makeup of the state legislature were to change.
"We have to understand that because of this Republican assault on women's rights in this state, without a constitutional amendment to solidify this right under our state's constitution, we are one Republican majority of losing the right of choice in the state of Washington," said Inslee.
Inslee also announced he will be issuing an executive order next week to the Washington State Patrol to not cooperate with law enforcement from other states that attempt to prosecute those seeking an abortion.
“We will make Washington state a sanctuary state for the right of choice,” said Inslee. “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 he is calling upon the state legislature to pass legislation to expand the practice to other law enforcement agencies across the state.
Inslee said he will also work to enhance the state's healthcare resources to prepare for the influx of those seeking an abortion from other states with a $1 million investment.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson also said he will work to ensure his state “welcomes any individual who comes here to access the fundamental right to reproductive justice,” adding that he is “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.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine said the state's most populous county will devote $1 million in emergency funding to help women traveling to the Seattle area seeking abortions.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said the city is also working to expand access to reproductive services and that it is investing $250,000 into the Northwest Abortion Access Fund.
Abortion has been legal in Washington state since a 1970 statewide ballot referendum. Another ballot measure approved by voters in 1991 affirmed a woman’s right to choose physician-performed abortion prior to fetal viability and further expanded and protected access to abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade was overturned.
A $15 million fund established by state lawmakers this year covers costs for abortion providers and patients without insurance coverage or traveling from out of state.
The fund also seeks to expand abortion access in Oregon’s rural communities.
“No matter who you are or where you come from, Oregon doesn’t turn away anyone seeking health care,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Friday.
Oregon has codified the right to an abortion. State law was updated in 2017 and allows for late-term abortions and requires private medical insurance and state Medicaid to cover the procedure.
In Sacramento, California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill intended to shield abortion providers and volunteers in California from legal decisions in other states that limit reproductive rights, part of a package of more than a dozen bills intended to make California a sanctuary for those seeking abortions.
He said the state’s budget will include $20 million over three years to help pay for women from other states to get abortions in California. The money will go to nonprofits that help women pay for expenses such as travel, lodging and child care.
In California, abortion was outlawed in 1850, except when the life of the mother was in danger. The law changed in 1967 to include abortions in the case of rape, incest or if a woman’s mental health were in danger.