Gov. Inslee, lawmakers pursue more protections for those seeking abortion in Washington

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and other lawmakers say they'll be working on legislation to shore up more protections for people seeking abortions in the coming weeks. 

The announcement comes on the heels of yesterday's Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which Inslee says leaves people in half of the country without abortion access.

The governor announced Saturday that he’ll be asking legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to further protect women in Washington State.

"We have to stand strong, and we will make Washington State a sanctuary state for the right of choice," said Governor Inslee. "If we have a constitutional amendment, we can’t guarantee it will pass, but if we elect enough people who believe in the right of choice, it will."

Following the Supreme Court decision, it is now illegal to seek an abortion in 23 states, and will likely be illegal in another three states. That leaves the East and West Coast states the only place were abortion health care is not banned.

Companies like Amazon, Alaska Airlines, Meta, Microsoft, Starbucks and Tesla are expanding insurance to cover travel costs for their employees to seek abortions in neighboring states.

"Because of this Republican assault on women’s rights in this state, without a constitutional amendment to solidify this right under the state’s constitution, we are one Republican majority away from losing that right of choice in the State of Washington," said Governor Inslee. "Accordingly, I will be asking the legislature to pass a constitutional amendment under our state’s constitution to protect women in our state."

"These restrictions are not based on science or medicine," said Rep. My-Linh Thai, D-Bellevue.

"I’m here today not only as a legislator, but as the 1-in-4 women who had an abortion," said Rep. Jessica Bateman, D-Olympia. 

A crowd of more than 100 gathered to hear the lawmakers speak Saturday morning. Many were still reeling from Friday's announcement that abortion was no longer a constitutional right.

"We just have to channel that rage, and there was a lot of rage and distress yesterday, and we are going to find our way through this," said Lorraine Brilliant.

She said that she was attending for her children and grandchildren. 

"Ultimately the big issue is the Equal Rights Amendment, and that women in this country do not have equal rights. We behave, and we think as though we do—but we don’t, and yesterday we were shown that just like that, something so vital is removed," said Brilliant. 

"It’s absolutely an equal rights issue," said Madeline Moss. "It’s an ‘every disenfranchised person who’s not a wealthy white male’-issue at this point."

The governor said he'll be using "every resource under the law" to defend the right of choice, privacy rights and safety.

"To start that effort next week, I will be issuing an executive order to the Washington State Patrol not to cooperate in investigations of other states who would violate the Roe versus Wade decision," said Inslee. 

He said legislation will also be needed to make that rule apply to all law enforcement agencies statewide. He's also asking lawmakers to find any gaps in privacy laws that may need to be filled in order to protect patients and their data. 

Senators: Companies collected data on patients at abortion clinics, then sold to pro-life activists

Democrat Senators condemned two data-broking companies they say tracked the locations of people visiting abortion clinics. They claim the information is already being bought up by pro-life organizations and activists to harass women seeking an abortion.

Inslee said lawmakers will also look to prevent unnecessary hospital mergers that would reduce access to abortion, and that the state will ramp up funding to hire more medical personnel to handle more patients.

"Abortion is common and essential health care, and safe," said Dr. Erin Berry, gynecologist and Washington State Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands.

Governor Inslee also talked about an alliance with Oregon and California to "magnify" each state's effectiveness. 

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"If someone tries to sneak around the law in one state, we advise our colleagues of a way to defeat that," said Governor Inslee. "We want them to know there is a wall on the West Coast protecting the women of the West Coast and the citizens who come from these other states."

"We know Washington State has a long record of standing up for women’s right of choice. We voted on it. We have supported contraception. We have supported access to reproductive care, and we have supported the abortion rights of women," said Governor Inslee. "But, Mike Pence and the Republican Party have a plan to take away this right from Washington women, and we intend to stop them."