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State senator says constitutional amendment protecting abortion needs more votes to pass

Washington state Sen. Karen Keiser, who helped craft the amendment, said Wednesday she doesn't believe there are currently enough votes to pass the legislation.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Washington state senator who helped craft an amendment protecting reproductive rights in the state says she doesn't believe there are enough votes to pass the legislation.

Senate Joint Resolution 8202, proposed by state Sens. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) and Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), would enshrine in the state constitution the individual right to make decisions about reproductive rights.

Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds supermajority vote in both chambers and approval by a majority of voters in a general election.

Keiser said she doesn't have the numbers they need to do that now, but noted that it's still early in the session. 

The amendment comes at the request of Gov. Jay Inslee, who vowed to protect reproductive rights in the state after Roe v. Wade was overturned earlier this year.

Keiser said she shares the concerns that the current U.S. Supreme Court could eventually revoke state laws. 

"That's why we need to have our own constitutional standard, in our own words," she said.  

The bill has a hearing on Tuesday.

This is just one of a number of moves by state leaders, especially Inslee, to protect abortion rights for residents and those who may travel to Washington.

In October, Inslee announced several policy proposals related to protecting abortion rights, including protecting Washington's status as a sanctuary state for abortion and reducing restrictions and obstacles to gender-affirming care.

Inslee issued a directive on July 1 instructing the Washington State Patrol to not cooperate with out-of-state abortion investigations, a preemptive move in case states where abortion is banned or significantly restricted seek to investigate whether their residents have traveled to the state. 

The governor also signed a bill on March 17 to prohibit abortion lawsuits in Washington state.

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